Specific suppression of the transcription factor AP-1 by mepacrine
© BioMed Central Ltd 2001
Received: 15 January 2001
Published: 26 January 2001
Mepacrine has been used for decades and the beneficial effects of this drug are well described. Since endothelial cells (EC) are in many cases the first cells to come in contact with drugs, the effect of mepacrine on certain aspects of EC biology were studied. First, our data demonstrate that at high doses mepacrine can have a marked impact on the integrity of the EC monolayer without grossly interfering with cell viability. The described impact of mepacrine on EC might explain, at least in part, the negative effects of this drug observed in the past. More importantly, mepacrine profoundly effects gene regulation in EC and fibroblasts. Mepacrine binds to DNA in a sequence specific manner. While NF-kB-DNA interactions are not effected, AP-1-DNA binding is blocked by mepacrine. Such differential effects are presumably due to sequence specific intercalation of mepacrine into the AP-1 consensus element. Pre-incubation of oligonucleotides resembling this sequence blocked the subsequent binding of nuclear extract containing AP-1 protein(s). Consequently, mepacrine prevents the upregulation of genes which depend mainly on the activation of AP-1. One of the few genes which have been found to depend heavily on the activation of this transcription factor is metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1). We demonstrated by western blot that treatment of fibroblasts with mepacrine completely prevented subsequent upregulation of MMP-1. Since MMP-1 plays an important role in the propagation of rheumatic diseases, we suggest that the beneficial effect of mepacrine seen in the past is due, at least in part, to the described mechanisms.