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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Small GTP-binding protein Rho-mediated signaling promotes proliferation of rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts

Shingo Nakayamada1, Hitoshi Kurose2, Kazuyoshi Saito1, Akira Mogami3 and Yoshiya Tanaka1*

Author Affiliations

1 First Department of Internal Medicine, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, Fukuoka, Japan

2 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

3 Pharmaceuticals Research Unit, Research & Development Division, Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation, Yokohama, Japan

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7:R476-R484  doi:10.1186/ar1694

Published: 18 February 2005


Rho is a major small GTP-binding protein that is involved in the regulation of various cell functions, including proliferation and cell migration, through activation of multiple signaling molecules in various types of cells. We studied its roles in synovial fibroblasts (SFs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and clarified its relevance to RA synovitis, with the following results. 1)We found that the thrombin receptor was overexpressed on RA synovial fibroblasts (RA SFs) and that thrombin induced a marked proliferation and progression of the cell cycle to the S phase in these cells. 2)We also found that thrombin efficiently activated Rho. 3)Rho activation and proliferation and the progression of the cell cycle to the S phase were completely blocked by p115RGS (an N-terminal regulator of the G-protein signaling domain of p115RhoGEF) and by the C-terminal fragments of Gα13 (an inhibitor of the interaction of receptors with G13). 4)Thrombin induced the secretion of IL-6 by RA SFs, but this action was blocked by p115RGS or Gα13. Our findings show that the actions of thrombin on the proliferation of RA SFs, cell-cycle progression to the S phase, and IL-6 secretion were mainly mediated by the G13 and RhoGEF pathways. These results suggest that p115RGS and Gα13 could be potent inhibitors of such functions. A rational design of future therapeutic strategies for RA synovitis could perhaps include the exploitation of the Rho pathway to directly reduce the growth of synovial cells.