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PubMed | University of Minnesota, Kadmon Research Institute, New York University and Nano Terra Life science
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2014

Rho-associated kinase 2 (ROCK2) regulates the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and the development of autoimmunity in mice. Data from a phase 1 clinical trial demonstrate that oral administration of KD025, a selective ROCK2 inhibitor, to healthy human subjects down-regulates the ability of T cells to secrete IL-21 and IL-17 by 90% and 60%, respectively, but not IFN- in response to T-cell receptor stimulation in vitro. Pharmacological inhibition with KD025 or siRNA-mediated inhibition of ROCK2, but not ROCK1, significantly diminished STAT3 phosphorylation and binding to IL-17 and IL-21 promoters and reduced IFN regulatory factor 4 and nuclear hormone RAR-related orphan receptor t protein levels in T cells derived from healthy subjects or rheumatoid arthritis patients. Simultaneously, treatment with KD025 also promotes the suppressive function of regulatory T cells through up-regulation of STAT5 phosphorylation and positive regulation of forkhead box p3 expression. The administration of KD025 in vivo down-regulates the progression of collagen-induced arthritis in mice via targeting of the Th17-mediated pathway. Thus, ROCK2 signaling appears to be instrumental in regulating the balance between proinflammatory and regulatory T-cell subsets. Targeting of ROCK2 in man may therefore restore disrupted immune homeostasis and have a role in the treatment of autoimmunity.


PubMed | University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Health Science University and 5 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Blood | Year: 2016

Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) remains a major complication following allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). The discovery of novel therapeutics is dependent on assessment in preclinical murine models of cGVHD. Rho-associated kinase 2 (ROCK2) recently was shown to be implicated in regulation of interleukin-21 (IL-21) and IL-17 secretion in mice and humans. Here, we report that the selective ROCK2 inhibitor KD025 effectively ameliorates cGVHD in multiple models: a full major histocompatibility complex (MHC) mismatch model of multiorgan system cGVHD with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome and a minor MHC mismatch model of sclerodermatous GVHD. Treatment with KD025 resulted in normalization of pathogenic pulmonary function, which correlates with a marked reduction of antibody and collagen deposition in the lungs of treated mice to levels comparable to non-cGVHD controls. Spleens of mice treated with KD025 had decreased frequency of T follicular helper cells and increased frequency of T follicular regulatory cells, accompanied by a reduction in signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and concurrent increase in STAT5 phosphorylation. The critical role of STAT3 in this cGVHD model was confirmed by data showing that mice transplanted with inducible STAT3-deficient T cells had pulmonary function comparable to the healthy negative controls. The therapeutic potential of targeted ROCK2 inhibition in the clinic was solidified further by human data demonstrating the KD025 inhibits the secretion of IL-21, IL-17, and interferon along with decreasing phosphorylated STAT3 and reduced protein expression of interferon regulatory factor 4 and B-cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6) in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells purified from active cGVHD patients. Together these data highlight the potential of targeted ROCK2 inhibition for clinical cGVHD therapy.


Zanin-Zhorov A.,Kadmon Research Institute | Flynn R.,University of Minnesota | Waksaland S.D.,University of Minnesota | Blazar B.R.,University of Minnesota
Small GTPases | Year: 2016

Rho-associated kinase 1 (ROCK1) and ROCK2 are activated by Rho GTPase and control cytoskeleton rearrangement through modulating the phosphorylation of their down-stream effector molecules. Although these 2 isoforms share more than 90% homology within their kinase domain the question of whether ROCK proteins function identically in different cell types is not clear. By using both pharmacological inhibition and genetic knockdown approaches recent studies suggest that the ROCK2 isoform plays an exclusive role in controlling of T-cell plasticity and macrophage polarization. Specifically, selective ROCK2 inhibition shifts the balance between pro-inflammatory and regulatory T-cell subsets via concurrent regulation of STAT3 and STAT5 phosphorylation, respectively. Furthermore, the administration of an orally available selective ROCK2 inhibitor effectively ameliorates clinical manifestations in experimental models of autoimmunity and chronic graft-vs.-host disease (cGVHD). Because ROCK2 inhibition results in the suppression of M2-type macrophages while favoring polarization of M1-type macrophages, ROCK2 inhibition can correct the macrophage imbalance seen during age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In summary, the exclusive role of ROCK2 in immune system modulation argues for the development and testing of isoform-specific ROCK2 inhibitors for the treatment of inflammatory disorders. © 2016 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC


Weiss J.M.,Kadmon Research Institute | Chen W.,Kadmon Research Institute | Nyuydzefe M.S.,Kadmon Research Institute | Trzeciak A.,Kadmon Research Institute | And 6 more authors.
Science Signaling | Year: 2016

Rho-associated kinase 2 (ROCK2) determines the balance between human T helper 17 (TH17) cells and regulatory T (Treg) cells. We investigated its role in the generation of T follicular helper (TFH) cells, which help to generate antibody-producing B cells under normal and autoimmune conditions. Inhibiting ROCK2 in normal human T cells or peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) decreased the number and function of TFH cells induced by activation ex vivo. Moreover, inhibition of ROCK2 activity decreased the abundance of the transcriptional regulator Bcl6 (B cell lymphoma 6) and increased that of Blimp1 by reducing the binding of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and increasing that of STAT5 to the promoters of the genes Bcl6 and PRDM1, respectively. In the MRL/lpr murine model of SLE, oral administration of the selective ROCK2 inhibitor KD025 resulted in a twofold reduction in the numbers of TFH cells and antibody-producing plasma cells in the spleen, as well as a decrease in the size of splenic germinal centers, which are the sites of interaction between TFH cells and B cells. KD025-treated mice showed a substantial improvement in both histological and clinical scores compared to those of untreated mice and had reduced amounts of Bcl6 and phosphorylated STAT3, as well as increased STAT5 phosphorylation. Together, these data suggest that ROCK2 signaling plays a critical role in controlling the development of TFH cells induced by autoimmune conditions through reciprocal regulation of STAT3 and STAT5 activation.


Zanin-Zhorov A.,Kadmon Research Institute | Weiss J.M.,Kadmon Research Institute | Nyuydzefe M.S.,Kadmon Research Institute | Chen W.,Kadmon Research Institute | And 18 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2014

Rho-associated kinase 2 (ROCK2) regulates the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and the development of autoimmunity in mice. Data from a phase 1 clinical trial demonstrate that oral administration of KD025, a selective ROCK2 inhibitor, to healthy human subjects down-regulates the ability of T cells to secrete IL-21 and IL-17 by 90% and 60%, respectively, but not IFN-γ in response to T-cell receptor stimulation in vitro. Pharmacological inhibition with KD025 or siRNA-mediated inhibition of ROCK2, but not ROCK1, significantly diminished STAT3 phosphorylation and binding to IL-17 and IL-21 promoters and reduced IFN regulatory factor 4 and nuclear hormone RAR-related orphan receptor γt protein levels in T cells derived from healthy subjects or rheumatoid arthritis patients. Simultaneously, treatment with KD025 also promotes the suppressive function of regulatory T cells through up-regulation of STAT5 phosphorylation and positive regulation of forkhead box p3 expression. The administration of KD025 in vivo down-regulates the progression of collagen-induced arthritis in mice via targeting of the Th17-mediated pathway. Thus, ROCK2 signaling appears to be instrumental in regulating the balance between proinflammatory and regulatory T-cell subsets. Targeting of ROCK2 in man may therefore restore disrupted immune homeostasis and have a role in the treatment of autoimmunity.


PubMed | University of Minnesota, Kadmon Research Institute and Hooke Laboratories
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Science signaling | Year: 2016

Rho-associated kinase 2 (ROCK2) determines the balance between human T helper 17 (TH17) cells and regulatory T (Treg) cells. We investigated its role in the generation of T follicular helper (TFH) cells, which help to generate antibody-producing B cells under normal and autoimmune conditions. Inhibiting ROCK2 in normal human T cells or peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) decreased the number and function of TFH cells induced by activation ex vivo. Moreover, inhibition of ROCK2 activity decreased the abundance of the transcriptional regulator Bcl6 (B cell lymphoma 6) and increased that of Blimp1 by reducing the binding of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and increasing that of STAT5 to the promoters of the genes Bcl6 and PRDM1, respectively. In the MRL/lpr murine model of SLE, oral administration of the selective ROCK2 inhibitor KD025 resulted in a twofold reduction in the numbers of TFH cells and antibody-producing plasma cells in the spleen, as well as a decrease in the size of splenic germinal centers, which are the sites of interaction between TFH cells and B cells. KD025-treated mice showed a substantial improvement in both histological and clinical scores compared to those of untreated mice and had reduced amounts of Bcl6 and phosphorylated STAT3, as well as increased STAT5 phosphorylation. Together, these data suggest that ROCK2 signaling plays a critical role in controlling the development of TFH cells induced by autoimmune conditions through reciprocal regulation of STAT3 and STAT5 activation.


Biderman L.,Columbia University | Poyurovsky M.V.,Columbia University | Poyurovsky M.V.,Kadmon Research Institute | Assia Y.,Columbia University | And 3 more authors.
Molecular and Cellular Biology | Year: 2012

The activity of the tumor suppressor p53 is tightly controlled by its main negative regulator, Mdm2, which inhibits p53's transcriptional activity and targets it for degradation via the proteasome pathway. The closely related Mdm2 homolog, MdmX, is also considered to be a general inhibitor of transactivation by p53, through binding to the p53 activation domain. We show here that, unexpectedly, upon DNA damage and ribosomal stress, MdmX plays a positive role in p53-mediated activation of the Mdm2 gene, but not of numerous other p53 target genes including p21. Downregulation of MdmX results in lower levels of mature and nascent Mdm2 transcripts following cellular stress. This correlates with a longer p53 half-life following DNA damage. In vitro, Mdm2 inhibits the binding of p53 to DNA to a much greater extent than does MdmX, although MdmX does not stimulate p53 interaction with Mdm2 promoter DNA. Strikingly, however, MdmX is required for optimal p53 binding to the Mdm2 promoter in vivo. Thus, we have described a new mechanism by which MdmX can suppress p53, which is through transcriptional activation of p53's principal negative regulator, Mdm2. © 2012, American Society for Microbiology.


McEwen A.E.,Northwestern University | Maher M.T.,Northwestern University | Mo R.,Northwestern University | Mo R.,Kadmon Research Institute | Gottardi C.J.,Northwestern University
Molecular Biology of the Cell | Year: 2014

E-cadherin is highly phosphorylated within its β-catenin-binding region, and this phosphorylation increases its affinity for β-catenin in vitro. However, the identification of key serines responsible for most cadherin phosphorylation and the adhesive consequences of modification at such serines have remained unknown. In this study, we show that as few as three serines in the β-catenin-binding domain of E-cadherin are responsible for most radioactive phosphate incorporation. These serines are required for binding to β-catenin and the mutual stability of both E-cadherin and β-catenin. Cells expressing a phosphodeficient (3S>A) E-cadherin exhibit minimal cell-cell adhesion due to enhanced endocytosis and degradation through a lysosomal compartment. Conversely, negative charge substitution at these serines (3S>D) antagonizes cadherin endocytosis and restores wild-type levels of adhesion. The cadherin kinase is membrane proximal and modifies the cadherin before it reaches the cell surface. Together these data suggest that E-cadherin phosphorylation is largely constitutive and integral to cadherin-catenin complex formation, surface stability, and function. © 2014 McEwen, Maher, et al.


Zanin-Zhorov A.,Kadmon Research Institute | Waksal S.D.,Kadmon Research Institute
Cytokine | Year: 2015

Balanced regulation of cytokine secretion in T cells is critical for maintenance of immune homeostasis and prevention of autoimmunity. The Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) 2 signaling pathway was previously shown to be involved in controlling of cellular movement and shape. However, recent work from our group and others has demonstrated a new and important role of ROCK2 in regulating cytokine secretion in T cells. We found that ROCK2 promotes pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-17 and IL-21, whereas IL-2 and IL-10 secretion are negatively regulated by ROCK2 under Th17-skewing activation. Also, in disease, but not in steady state conditions, ROCK2 contributes to regulation of IFN-γ secretion in T cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients. Thus, ROCK2 signaling is a key pathway in modulation of T-cell mediated immune responses underscoring the therapeutic potential of targeted inhibition of ROCK2 in autoimmunity. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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