Targeting the myofibroblast genetic switch: Inhibitors of myocardin-related transcription factor/serum response factor-regulated gene transcription prevent fibrosis in a murine model of skin injury

Andrew J. Haak, Pei Suen Tsou, Mohammad A. Amin, Jeffrey H. Ruth, Phillip Campbell, David A. Fox, Dinesh Khanna, Scott D. Larsen, Richard R. Neubig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

Systemic sclerosis (SSc), or scleroderma, similar to many fibrotic disorders, lacks effective therapies. Current trials focus on antiinflammatory drugs or targeted approaches aimed at one of the many receptor mechanisms initiating fibrosis. In light of evidence that a myocardin-related transcription factor (MRTF)-And serum response factor (SRF)-regulated gene transcriptional program induced by Rho GTPases is essential for myofibroblast activation, we explored the hypothesis that inhibitors of this pathway may represent novel antifibrotics. MRTF/SRF-regulated genes show spontaneously increased expression in primary dermal fibroblasts from patients with diffuse cutaneous SSc. A novel small-molecule inhibitor of MRTF/SRF-regulated transcription (CCG-203971) inhibits expression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), and collagen 1 (COL1A2) in both SSc fibroblasts and in lysophosphatidic acid (LPA)-And transforming growth factor β (TGFβ-stimulated fibroblasts. In vivo treatment with CCG-203971 also prevented bleomycin-induced skin thickening and collagen deposition. Thus, targeting theMRTF/SRF gene transcription pathway could provide an efficacious new approach to therapy for SSc and other fibrotic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-486
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Volume349
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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