Experimental and molecular pathology

Ac-SDKP suppresses epithelial-mesenchymal transition in A549 cells via HSP27 signaling.

PMID 24998956


The synthetic tetrapeptide N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (Ac-SDKP) has been shown to be a modulator of molecular aspects of the fibrosis pathway. This study reveals that Ac-SDKP exerts an anti-fibrotic effect on human type II alveolar epithelial cells (A549), which are a source of myofibroblasts once exposed to TGF-β1, by decreasing the expression of heat shock protein 27 (HSP27). We used A549 cells in vitro to detect morphological evidence of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by phase-contrast microscopy. Immunocytochemical and western blot analysis determined the distributions of cytokeratin 8 (CK8), α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), and SNAI1. Confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed a colocalization of HSP27 and SNAI1 on TGF-β1-induced A549 cells. These results also demonstrated that A549 cells became spindle-like when exposed to TGF-β1. Coincident with these morphological changes, expression levels of CK8 and E-cad decreased, while those of vimentin and α-SMA increased. This process was accompanied by increases in levels of HSP27, SNAI1, and type I and type III collagen. In vitro transfection experiments demonstrated that the inhibition of HSP27 in cultured A549 cells could decrease the expression of SNAI1 and α-SMA while increasing the expression of E-cad. A noticeable reduction in collagen types I and III was also evident. Our results found that Ac-SDKP inhibited the transition of cultured A549 cells to myofibroblasts and attenuated collagen synthesis through modulating the expression of HSP27.