The use of small molecules to manipulate metabolic function in vivo has emerged as an important new approach to therapy for a wide range of disease pathologies. The amino acid starvation response (AAR) is a signaling pathway that controls a variety metabolic and cytoprotective functions in response to the restriction of amino acid availability. In our preliminary experiments we have found that halofuginone, a small molecule with efficacy in a variety of animal disease models involving fibrosis and angiogenesis, is a potent and specific activator of the AAR. We have also found that halofuginone activates the AAR through a novel mechanism, and acts independently of the best characterized mediator of AAR signaling. Through this novel signaling mechanism, HF regulates a variety of previously described cell behaviors associated with disease pathology or pathogenesis. We have also identified a novel, specific effect of HF on the differentiation in vitro and in vivo pro-inflammatory T-cells. HF alters T-cell populations in vivo in a way predicted by its effects in vitro. HF reduces inflammatory pathology in a mouse model of autoimmunity, indicating that HF has strong potential as a new class of therapeutic for autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disease. These observations open an exciting new set of opportunities for understanding how HF, and other small molecules with similar molecular targets, may have new and unexpected uses for the treatment of pathology associated with chronic inflammatory disease.

Public Health Relevance

We have identified a small molecule that in animal models is effective for the treatment of pathological tissue changes associated with a wide range of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, muscular dystrophy, and diabetic nephropathy. We plan to characterize the mechanism of action of this molecule as a new class of disease therapeutic.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01GM089885-03
Application #
8228147
Study Section
Molecular and Integrative Signal Transduction Study Section (MIST)
Program Officer
Marino, Pamela
Project Start
2010-04-01
Project End
2014-02-28
Budget Start
2012-03-01
Budget End
2013-02-28
Support Year
3
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$369,171
Indirect Cost
$151,371
Name
Harvard University
Department
Dentistry
Type
Schools of Dentistry
DUNS #
047006379
City
Boston
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02115
Bordoli, Mattia R; Yum, Jina; Breitkopf, Susanne B et al. (2014) A secreted tyrosine kinase acts in the extracellular environment. Cell 158:1033-44
Keller, Tracy L; Zocco, Davide; Sundrud, Mark S et al. (2012) Halofuginone and other febrifugine derivatives inhibit prolyl-tRNA synthetase. Nat Chem Biol 8:311-7
Kamberov, Yana G; Kim, Jihoon; Mazitschek, Ralph et al. (2011) Microarray profiling reveals the integrated stress response is activated by halofuginone in mammary epithelial cells. BMC Res Notes 4:381