Open Access Research article

Endothelial protein C receptor-associated invasiveness of rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts is likely driven by group V secretory phospholipase A2

Meilang Xue1*, Kaitlin Shen1, Kelly McKelvey1, Juan Li1, Yee-Ka Agnes Chan1, Vicky Hatzis1, Lyn March2, Christopher B Little3, Michael Tonkin4 and Christopher J Jackson1

Author Affiliations

1 Sutton Arthritis Research Laboratories, The University of Sydney at Royal North Shore Hospital, Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia

2 Department of Rheumatology, The University of Sydney at Royal North Shore Hospital, Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia

3 Raymond Purves Research Laboratory, The University of Sydney at Royal North Shore Hospital, Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia

4 Department of Surgery, Kolling Institute of Medical Research, The University of Sydney at Royal North Shore Hospital, Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R44  doi:10.1186/ar4473

Published: 5 February 2014

Abstract

Introduction

Rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) mediate joint inflammation and destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) is a specific receptor for the natural anticoagulant activated protein C (APC). It mediates the cytoprotective properties of APC and is expressed in rheumatoid synovial tissue. A recent report shows that group V secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2V) prevents APC from binding to EPCR in endothelium and inhibits EPCR/APC function. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and function of EPCR on RASFs.

Methods

Human synovial fibroblasts (SFs) were isolated from RA or osteoarthritis (OA) synovial tissues and treated with control, EPCR, or sPLA2V small interfering RNA (siRNA); recombinant human APC, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), or sPLA2V. RASF viability and migration/invasion were measured by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and collagen gel migration/invasion assays, respectively, and cartilage degradation by 1,9-dimethylmethylene blue (DMMB) assay in the presence of human OA articular cartilage explants. The expression or activation of cytokines, EPCR, cadherin-11, mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, and nuclear factor-kappa-B (NF-κB) or both were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, Western blotting, or immunostaining.

Results

EPCR was expressed by both OASFs and RASFs but was markedly increased in RASFs. When EPCR was suppressed by siRNA or blocking antibody cell viability, cell invasion and cartilage degradation were reduced by more than 30%. Inflammatory mediators interleukin-1-beta (IL-1β), cadherin-11, and NF-κB were significantly reduced by EPCR suppression under control or TNF-α-stimulated conditions. The expression or activation (or both) of MAP kinases ERK, p38, and JNK were also markedly decreased in cells transfected with EPCR siRNA. Further analysis revealed that sPLA2V co-localized with EPCR on RASFs. Suppression of sPLA2V reduced cell viability and cartilage degradation and increased APC binding to RASFs. Conversely, recombinant sPLA2V increased cartilage degradation, blocked APC binding to RASFs, and could not rescue the effects induced by EPCR suppression.

Conclusions

Our results demonstrate that EPCR is overexpressed by RASFs and mediates the aggressive behavior of RASFs. This function of EPCR is contrary to its cytoprotective role in other settings and is likely driven by sPLA2V.