TGF-β1 signaling is a critical driver of collagen accumulation and fibrotic disease but also a vital suppressor of inflammation and epithelial cell proliferation. The nature of this multifunctional cytokine has limited the development of global TGF-β1 signaling inhibitors as therapeutic agents. We conducted phenotypic screens for small molecules that inhibit TGF-β1–induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition without immediate TGF-β1 receptor (TβR) kinase inhibition. We identified trihydroxyphenolic compounds as potent blockers of TGF-β1 responses (IC50 ~50 nM), Snail1 expression, and collagen deposition in vivo in models of pulmonary fibrosis and collagen-dependent lung cancer metastasis. Remarkably, the functional effects of trihydroxyphenolics required the presence of active lysyl oxidase–like 2 (LOXL2), thereby limiting effects to fibroblasts or cancer cells, the major LOXL2 producers. Mechanistic studies revealed that trihydroxyphenolics induce auto-oxidation of a LOXL2/3–specific lysine (K731) in a time-dependent reaction that irreversibly inhibits LOXL2 and converts the trihydrophenolic to a previously undescribed metabolite that directly inhibits TβRI kinase. Combined inhibition of LOXL2 and TβRI activities by trihydrophenolics resulted in potent blockade of pathological collagen accumulation in vivo without the toxicities associated with global inhibitors. These findings elucidate a therapeutic approach to attenuate fibrosis and the disease-promoting effects of tissue stiffness by specifically targeting TβRI kinase in LOXL2-expressing cells.
Ying Wei, Thomas J. Kim, David H. Peng, Dana Duan, Don L. Gibbons, Mitsuo Yamauchi, Julia R. Jackson, Claude J. Le Saux, Cheresa Calhoun, Jay Peters, Rik Derynck, Bradley J. Backes, Harold A. Chapman
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.