Abstract 315: The Role of Mixed Lineage Kinase 3 in Inflammatory Cell-Fibroblast Communication

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Mixed lineage kinase 3 (MLK3) is a ubiquitously expressed pro-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic mitogen activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K). MLK3 is a key regulator of the p38 and c-jun terminal kinase (JNK) pathways and has been studied in cancer and neurodegenerative disease. Although the p38 and JNK pathways have been studied in the cardiac function and disease, little is known regarding the role of MLK3 in the heart. Studies in our laboratory have indicated that MLK3 RNA is highly expressed in macrophages, cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts, suggesting an important role in cardiac function. Recently published work has indicated that MLK3 plays an important role in inflammatory cell motility, leading us to hypothesize that MLK3 is involved in inflammatory cell-fibroblast communication during cardiac disease. Knockout (KO) or inhibition of MLK3 using the novel small molecule inhibitor URMC-099 does not significantly affect heart rate, mean arterial pressure, systolic pressure, minimum or maximum dp/dt compared to wild type (WT) controls as measured by invasive hemodynamics at 3 months of age. Echocardiographic analysis indicates that MLK3 KO or inhibition does not affect cardiac architecture or cardiac function, indicated by fractional shortening or ejection fraction. However, upon transaortic constriction (TAC), MLK3 KO and URMC-099 treatment results in decreases in Mac-3 positive staining at 3 and 7 days post-TAC as well as decreases in CD-45 staining 7 days post-TAC compared to WT TAC operated, vehicle treated controls, suggesting that MLK3 KO and drug treatment may attenuate the early inflammatory response after TAC. Studies examining the relationship between the MLK3 mediated inflammatory response and subsequent fibrosis and cardiac dysfunction post-TAC are currently ongoing.

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