5 years ago

Tacrolimus rescues the signaling and gene expression signature of endothelial ALK1 loss-of-function and improves HHT vascular pathology.

Marambaud, Zhao, Christen, Papoin, Chatterjee, Chandakkar, Blanc, Metz, Campagne, Ruiz
Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is a highly debilitating and life-threatening genetic vascular disorder arising from endothelial cell (EC) proliferation and hypervascularization, for which no cure exists. Because HHT is caused by loss-of-function mutations in BMP9-ALK1-Smad1/5/8 signaling, interventions aimed at activating this pathway are of therapeutic value. We interrogated the whole-transcriptome in human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs) and found that ALK1 signaling inhibition was associated with a specific pro-angiogenic gene expression signature, which included a significant elevation of DLL4 expression. By screening the NIH clinical collections of FDA-approved drugs, we identified tacrolimus (FK-506) as the most potent activator of ALK1 signaling in BMP9-challenged C2C12 reporter cells. In HUVECs, tacrolimus activated Smad1/5/8 and opposed the pro-angiogenic gene expression signature associated with ALK1 loss-of-function, by notably reducing Dll4 expression. In these cells, tacrolimus also inhibited Akt and p38 stimulation by VEGF, a major driver of angiogenesis. In the BMP9/10-immunodepleted postnatal retina-a mouse model of HHT vascular pathology-tacrolimus activated endothelial Smad1/5/8 and prevented the Dll4 overexpression and hypervascularization associated with this model. Finally, tacrolimus stimulated Smad1/5/8 signaling in C2C12 cells expressing BMP9-unresponsive ALK1 HHT mutants and in HHT patient blood outgrowth ECs (BOECs). Tacrolimus repurposing has therefore therapeutic potential in HHT.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddx358

DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddx358

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