Sonic Hedgehog Regulates Proliferation, Migration and Invasion of Synoviocytes in Rheumatoid Arthritis via JNK Signaling

Shangling Zhu, Yuanmei Ye, Yiming Shi, Junlong Dang, Xiaoxue Feng, Yingdi Chen, Fang Liu, Nancy Olsen, Jianlin Huang, Song Guo Zheng

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Abstract

Activated fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) play a central role in the formation of synovial pannus and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Targeting FLSs could be a potential therapeutic strategy. The objective of this study is to explore the role of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in proliferation, migration and invasion of FLSs promoted by the sonic hedeghog (SHH) signaling pathway in patients with RA. Activation of SHH signaling was evaluated by real-time PCR and Western Blot. Levels of phosphorylation of JNK and c-Jun were detected by Western Blot. FLSs proliferation was quantified by Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) assay and flow cytometry. Cell migration and invasion were assessed by wound healing assay and Transwell chamber assay. Invasiveness of FLSs in vivo was evaluated using a humanized synovitis animal model. We observed that treatment of SHH agonist (SAG) significantly increased the levels of phosphorylation of JNK and c-Jun, while SHH antagonist (cyclopamine) significantly decreased the expression of phospho-JNK and phospho-c-Jun in FLSs. The elevated level of phospho-c-Jun stimulated by SAG was decreased in the presence of JNK inhibitor (SP600125) (P < 0.001). FLSs proliferation, migration and invasion were promoted by SHH agonist (P < 0.05). However, the enhanced aggressiveness of FLSs was abolished in the presence of JNK inhibitor (P < 0.05). In vivo study showed that the invasion of FLSs into cartilage was increased by SHH overexpression and the excessive invasiveness was inhibited by blockade of JNK signaling (P < 0.01). These results suggest that JNK is one of the downstream molecules mediating the effect of SHH signaling in FLSs. These findings indicate that SHH-JNK signaling could be a potential therapeutic target to suppress the aggressiveness of FLSs and prevent articular damage of RA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1300
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 24 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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