Project description:The p38 MAPK family is composed of four kinases of which p38?/MAPK14 is the major proinflammatory member. These kinases contribute to many inflammatory diseases, but the currently available p38 catalytic inhibitors (e.g., SB203580) are poorly effective and cause toxicity. We reasoned that the failure of catalytic p38 inhibitors may derive from their activity against noninflammatory p38 isoforms (e.g., p38?/MAPK11) and loss of all p38?-dependent responses, including anti-inflammatory, counterregulatory responses via mitogen- and stress-activated kinase (MSK) 1/2 and Smad3. We used computer-aided drug design to target small molecules to a pocket near the p38? glutamate-aspartate (ED) substrate-docking site rather than the catalytic site, the sequence of which had only modest homology among p38 isoforms. We identified a lead compound, UM101, that was at least as effective as SB203580 in stabilizing endothelial barrier function, reducing inflammation, and mitigating LPS-induced mouse lung injury. Differential scanning fluorimetry and saturation transfer difference-nuclear magnetic resonance demonstrated specific binding of UM101 to the computer-aided drug design-targeted pockets in p38? but not p38?. RNA sequencing analysis of TNF-?-stimulated gene expression revealed that UM101 inhibited only 28 of 61 SB203580-inhibited genes and 7 of 15 SB203580-inhibited transcription factors, but spared the anti-inflammatory MSK1/2 pathway. We provide proof of principle that small molecules that target the ED substrate-docking site may exert anti-inflammatory effects similar to the catalytic p38 inhibitors, but their isoform specificity and substrate selectivity may confer inherent advantages over catalytic inhibitors for treating inflammatory diseases.
Project description:p38α mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) plays a role in several cellular processes and consequently has been a therapeutic target in inflammatory diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. A number of known p38α MAPK inhibitors contain vicinal 4-fluorophenyl/4-pyridyl rings connected to either a 5- or 6-membered heterocycle. In this study, a small library of substituted thiophene-based compounds bearing the vicinal 4-fluorophenyl/4-pyridyl rings was designed using computational docking as a visualisation tool. Compounds were synthesised and evaluated in a fluorescence polarisation binding assay. The synthesised analogues had a higher binding affinity to the active phosphorylated form of p38α MAPK than the inactive nonphosphorylated form of the protein. 4-(2-(4-fluorophenyl)thiophen-3-yl)pyridine had a K i value of 0.6 μm to active p38α MAPK highlighting that substitution of the core ring to a thiophene retains affinity to the enzyme and can be utilised in p38α MAPK inhibitors. This compound was further elaborated using a substituted phenyl ring in order to probe the second hydrophobic pocket. Many of these analogues exhibited low micromolar affinity to active p38α MAPK. The suppression of neonatal rat fibroblast collagen synthesis was also observed suggesting that further development of these compounds may lead to potential therapeutics having cardioprotective properties.
Project description:The p38α mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is one of the serine/threonine kinases regulating a variety of biological processes, including cell-type specification, differentiation and migration. Previous in vitro studies using pharmacological inhibitors suggested that p38 MAPK is essential for oligodendrocyte (OL) differentiation and myelination. To investigate the specific roles of p38α MAPK in OL development and myelination in vivo, we generated p38α conditional knockout (CKO) mice under the PLP and nerve/glial antigen 2 (NG2) gene promoters, as these genes are specifically expressed in OL progenitor cells (OPCs). Our data revealed that myelin synthesis was completely inhibited in OLs differentiated from primary OPC cultures derived from the NG2 Cre-p38α CKO mouse brains. Although an in vivo myelination defect was not obvious after gross examination of these mice, electron microscopic analysis showed that the ultrastructure of myelin bundles was severely impaired. Moreover, the onset of myelination in the corpus callosum was delayed in the knockout mice compared with p38α fl/fl control mice. A delay in OL differentiation in the central nervous system was observed with concomitant downregulation in the expression of OPC- and OL-specific genes such as Olig1 and Zfp488 during early postnatal development. OPC proliferation was not affected during this time. These data indicate that p38α is a positive regulator of OL differentiation and myelination. Unexpectedly, we observed an opposite effect of p38α on remyelination in the cuprizone-induced demyelination model. The p38α CKO mice exhibited better remyelination capability compared with p38α fl/fl mice following demyelination. The opposing roles of p38α in myelination and remyelination could be due to a strong anti-inflammatory effect of p38α or a dual reciprocal regulatory action of p38α on myelin formation during development and on remyelination after demyelination.
Project description:Amyloid β (Aβ) damages neurons and triggers microglial inflammatory activation in the Alzheimer disease (AD) brain. BACE1 is the primary enzyme in Aβ generation. Neuroinflammation potentially up-regulates BACE1 expression and increases Aβ production. In Alzheimer amyloid precursor protein-transgenic mice and SH-SY5Y cell models, we specifically knocked out or knocked down gene expression of mapk14, which encodes p38α MAPK, a kinase sensitive to inflammatory and oxidative stimuli. Using immunological and biochemical methods, we observed that reduction of p38α MAPK expression facilitated the lysosomal degradation of BACE1, decreased BACE1 protein and activity, and subsequently attenuated Aβ generation in the AD mouse brain. Inhibition of p38α MAPK also enhanced autophagy. Blocking autophagy by treating cells with 3-methyladenine or overexpressing dominant-negative ATG5 abolished the deficiency of the p38α MAPK-induced BACE1 protein reduction in cultured cells. Thus, our study demonstrates that p38α MAPK plays a critical role in the regulation of BACE1 degradation and Aβ generation in AD pathogenesis.
Project description:We developed a novel substrate-selective inhibitor of p38 MAPK, UM101, and compared its effects on TNF-induced gene expression by human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECLs) with the prototypical p38 catalytic inhibitor, SB203580 Overall design: HMVECLs were pretreated with DMSO (vehicle), UM101, or SB203580, then stimulated with TNF for 3h. Total RNA from treated cells and untreated control HMVECLs was isolated, poly(A) mRNA enriched and sequenced using the Illumina HiSeq platform.
Project description:Objective: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS), characterized by a global increasing incidence driven by relapsing-remitting disease in females. p38 MAP kinase (MAPK) has been described as a key regulator of inflammatory responses in autoimmunity, but its role in the sexual dimorphism in MS or MS models remains unexplored. Methods: Toward this end, we used experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the principal animal model of MS, combined with pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of p38 MAPK activity and transcriptomic analyses. Results: Pharmacologic inhibition of p38 MAPK selectively ameliorated EAE in female mice. Conditional deletion studies demonstrated that p38α signaling in macrophages/myeloid cells, but not T cells or dendritic cells, recapitulated this sexual dimorphism. Analysis of CNS inflammatory infiltrates showed that female, but not male mice lacking p38α in myeloid cells exhibited reduced immune cell activation compared with controls, while peripheral T cell priming was unaffected in both sexes. Transcriptomic analyses of myeloid cells revealed differences in p38α-controlled transcripts comprising female- and male-specific gene modules, with greater p38α dependence of pro-inflammatory gene expression in females. Interpretation: Our findings demonstrate a key role for p38α in myeloid cells in CNS autoimmunity and uncover important molecular mechanisms underlying sex differences in disease pathogenesis. Taken together, our results suggest that the p38 MAPK signaling pathway represents a novel target for much needed disease modifying therapies for MS WT vs. p38alphaCKO macrophages, male vs. female
Project description:Intramembrane proteases signal by releasing proteins from the membrane, but despite their importance, their enzymatic mechanisms remain obscure. We probed rhomboid proteases with reversible, mechanism-based inhibitors that allow precise kinetic analysis and faithfully mimic the transition state structurally. Unexpectedly, inhibition by peptide aldehydes is non-competitive, revealing that in the Michaelis complex, substrate does not contact the catalytic center. Structural analysis in a membrane revealed that all extracellular loops of rhomboid make stabilizing interactions with substrate, but mainly through backbone interactions, explaining rhomboid's broad sequence selectivity. At the catalytic site, the tetrahedral intermediate lies covalently attached to the catalytic serine alone, with the oxyanion stabilized by unusual tripartite interactions with the side chains of H150, N154, and the backbone of S201. We also visualized unexpected substrate-enzyme interactions at the non-essential P2/P3 residues. These "extra" interactions foster potent rhomboid inhibition in living cells, thereby opening avenues for rational design of selective rhomboid inhibitors.
Project description:p38α MAPK negatively regulates the G1/S and G2/M cell cycle transitions. However, liver-specific p38α deficiency impairs cytokinesis and reduces hepatocyte proliferation during cirrhosis and aging in mice. In this work, we have studied how p38α down-regulation affects hepatocyte proliferation after partial hepatectomy, focusing on mitotic progression, cytokinesis and oxidative stress. We found that p38α deficiency triggered up-regulation of cyclins A1, B1, B2, and D1 under basal conditions and after hepatectomy. Moreover, p38α-deficient hepatocytes showed enhanced binucleation and increased levels of phospho-histone H3 but impaired phosphorylation of MNK1 after hepatectomy. The recovery of liver mass was transiently delayed in mice with p38α-deficient hepatocytes vs wild type mice. We also found that p38α deficiency caused glutathione oxidation in the liver, increased plasma aminotransferases and lactate dehydrogenase activities, and decreased plasma protein levels after hepatectomy. Interestingly, p38α silencing in isolated hepatocytes markedly decreased phospho-MNK1 levels, and silencing of either p38α or Mnk1 enhanced binucleation of hepatocytes in culture. In conclusion, p38α deficiency impairs mitotic progression in hepatocytes and restrains the recovery of liver mass after partial hepatectomy. Our results also indicate that p38α regulates cytokinesis by activating MNK1 and redox modulation.
Project description:p38α activation of multiple effectors may underlie the failure of global p38α inhibitors in clinical trials. A unique inhibitor (CDD-450) was developed that selectively blocked p38α activation of the proinflammatory kinase MK2 while sparing p38α activation of PRAK and ATF2. Next, the hypothesis that the p38α-MK2 complex mediates inflammasome priming cues was tested. CDD-450 had no effect on NLRP3 expression, but it decreased IL-1β expression by promoting IL-1β mRNA degradation. Thus, IL-1β is regulated not only transcriptionally by NF-κB and posttranslationally by the inflammasomes but also posttranscriptionally by p38α-MK2. CDD-450 also accelerated TNF-α and IL-6 mRNA decay, inhibited inflammation in mice with cryopyrinopathy, and was as efficacious as global p38α inhibitors in attenuating arthritis in rats and cytokine expression by cells from patients with cryopyrinopathy and rheumatoid arthritis. These findings have clinical translation implications as CDD-450 offers the potential to avoid tachyphylaxis associated with global p38α inhibitors that may result from their inhibition of non-MK2 substrates involved in antiinflammatory and housekeeping responses.
Project description:15-Deoxy-Delta(12,14)-prostaglandin J(2) (15d-PGJ(2)) is a potent anti-angiogenic factor and induces endothelial cell apoptosis, although the mechanism remains unclear. In this study, 15d-PGJ(2) was found to increase p53 levels of the human umbilical vein endothelial cells by stabilizing p53. Both 15d-PGJ(2)-induced apoptosis and the induction of p21(Waf1) and Bax can be abolished by p53 small interfering RNA but not by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma inhibitors. Moreover, 15d-PGJ(2) activated JNK and p38 MAPK while inducing p53 phosphorylation at sites responsible for p53 activity. JNK inhibitor (SP600125) or p38 MAPK inhibitor (SB203580) pretreatment attenuated 15d-PGJ(2)-mediated apoptosis and suppressed the p21(Waf1) and Bax expressions without affecting p53 protein accumulation. Pretreatment with SP600125 partially prevented the phosphorylation of p53 at serines 33 and 392 induced by 15d-PGJ(2). 15d-PGJ(2) was also found to induce reactive oxygen species generation and partially blocked nuclear factor-kappaB activity. Pretreatment with antioxidant N-acetylcysteine prevented the p53 accumulation, the phosphorylations of JNK and p38 MAPK, the inhibition of NF-kappaB activity, as well as the apoptosis induced by 15d-PGJ(2). Using a mouse model of corneal neovascularization, it was demonstrated in vivo that 15d-PGJ(2) induced reactive oxygen species generation, activated JNK and p38 MAPK, induced p53 accumulation/phosphorylation, and induced vascular endothelial cell apoptosis, which could be abolished by N-acetylcysteine, SP600125, SB203580, or a virus-derived amphipathic peptides-based p53 small interfering RNA. This is the first study that 15d-PGJ(2) induces vascular endothelial cell apoptosis through the signaling of JNK and p38 MAPK-mediated p53 activation both in vitro and in vivo, further establishing the potential of 15d-PGJ(2) as an anti-angiogenesis agent.