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1.  In vitro and in vivo pharmacological profile of PL-3994, a novel cyclic peptide (Hept-cyclo(Cys-His-Phe-d-Ala-Gly-Arg-d-Nle-Asp-Arg-Ile-Ser-Cys)-Tyr-[Arg mimetic]-NH2) natriuretic peptide receptor-A agonist that is resistant to neutral endopeptidase and acts as a bronchodilator 
The pharmacological and airways relaxant profiles of PL-3994 (Hept-cyclo(Cys-His-Phe-d-Ala-Gly-Arg-dNle-Asp-Arg-Ile-Ser-Cys)-Tyr-[Arg mimetic]-NH2), a novel natriuretic peptide receptor-A (NPR-A) agonist, were evaluated. PL-3994, a full agonist, has high affinity for recombinant human (h), dog, or rat NPR-As (Kis of 1, 41, and 10 nm, respectively), and produced concentration-dependent cGMP generation in human, dog and rat NPR-As (respective EC50s of 2, 3 and 14 nm). PL-3994 has a Ki of 7 nm for hNPR-C but was without effect on cGMP generation in hNPR-B. PL-3994 (1 µm) was without significant effect against 75 diverse molecular targets. PL-3994 or BNP, a natural NPR ligand, produced concentration-dependent relaxation of pre-contracted guinea-pig trachea (IC50s of 42.7 and 10.7 nm, respectively). PL-3994, and also BNP, (0.1 nm–100 µm) elicited a potent, concentration-dependent but small relaxation of pre-contracted human precision-cut lung slices (hPCLS). Intratracheal PL-3994 (1–1000 µg/kg) produced a dose-dependent inhibition of the bronchoconstrictor response evoked by aerosolized methacholine, but was without significant effect on cardiovascular parameters. PL-3994 was resistant to degradation by human neutral endopeptidase (hNEP) (92% remaining after 2 h), whereas the natural ligands, ANP and CNP, were rapidly metabolized (≤1% remaining after 2 h). PL-3994 is a potent, selective NPR agonist, resistant to NEP, with relaxant effects in guinea-pig and human airway smooth muscle systems. PL-3994 has the profile predictive of longer clinical bronchodilator activity than observed previously with ANP, and suggests its potential utility in the treatment of asthma, in addition to being a useful research tool to evaluate NPR biology.
PMCID: PMC4070431  PMID: 23154072
PL-3994; Natriuretic peptide receptors; Atrial natriuretic peptide; Brain natriuretic peptide; Neutral endopeptidase sensitivity; Bronchodilator
2.  Regulator of G-Protein Signaling–5 Inhibits Bronchial Smooth Muscle Contraction in Severe Asthma 
Severe asthma is associated with fixed airway obstruction attributable to inflammation, copious luminal mucus, and increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass. Paradoxically, studies demonstrated that the hypertrophic and hyperplastic ASM characteristic of severe asthma has reduced contractile capacity. We compared the G-protein–coupled receptor (GPCR)–induced Ca2+ mobilization and expression of GPCRs and signaling proteins related to procontractile signaling in ASM derived postmortem from subjects who died of nonrespiratory causes, with cells from subjects who died of asthma. Despite the increased or comparable expression of contraction-promoting GPCRs (bradykinin B2 or histamine H1 and protease-activated receptor 1, respectively) in asthmatic ASM cells relative to cells from healthy donors, asthmatic ASM cells exhibited reduced histamine-induced Ca2+ mobilization and comparable responses to bradykinin and thrombin, suggesting a postreceptor signaling defect. Accordingly, the expression of regulator of G-protein signaling–5 (RGS5), an inhibitor of ASM contraction, was increased in cultured, asthmatic ASM cells and in bronchial smooth muscle bundles of both human subjects with asthma and allergen-challenged mice, relative to those of healthy human subjects or naive mice. The overexpression of RGS5 impaired the release of Ca2+ to thrombin, histamine, and carbachol, and reduced the contraction of precision-cut lung slices to carbachol. These results suggest that increased RGS5 expression contributes to decreased myocyte shortening in severe and fatal asthma.
PMCID: PMC3380291  PMID: 22281988
asthma; bronchial smooth muscle; signal transduction; G-protein–coupled receptors
3.  An RGS4-Mediated Phenotypic Switch of Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells Promotes Fixed Airway Obstruction in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28504.
In severe asthma, bronchodilator- and steroid-insensitive airflow obstruction develops through unknown mechanisms characterized by increased lung airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and stiffness. We explored the role of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling protein (RGS4) in the ASM hyperplasia and reduced contractile capacity characteristic of advanced asthma. Using immunocytochemical staining, ASM expression of RGS4 was determined in endobronchial biopsies from healthy subjects and those from subjects with mild, moderate and severe asthma. Cell proliferation assays, agonist-induced calcium mobilization and bronchoconstriction were determined in cultured human ASM cells and in human precision cut lung slices. Using gain- and loss-of-function approaches, the precise role of RGS proteins was determined in stimulating human ASM proliferation and inhibiting bronchoconstriction. RGS4 expression was restricted to a subpopulation of ASM and was specifically upregulated by mitogens, which induced a hyperproliferative and hypocontractile ASM phenotype similar to that observed in recalcitrant asthma. RGS4 expression was markedly increased in bronchial smooth muscle of patients with severe asthma, and expression correlated significantly with reduced pulmonary function. Whereas RGS4 inhibited G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated bronchoconstriction, unexpectedly RGS4 was required for PDGF-induced proliferation and sustained activation of PI3K, a mitogenic signaling molecule that regulates ASM proliferation. These studies indicate that increased RGS4 expression promotes a phenotypic switch of ASM, evoking irreversible airway obstruction in subjects with severe asthma.
PMCID: PMC3257220  PMID: 22253691

Results 1-3 (3)