When mammalian tissues are infected by bacteria or fungi, inflammatory cytokines are released that cause circulating neutrophils to invade the infected tissue. The cytosolic tyrosine kinase, c-Abl, in these tissue neutrophils is activated by TNFα. c-Abl then phosphorylates STAT transcription factors, which results in production of the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1. The normally short-lived tissue neutrophils are then unable to enter apoptosis. c-Abl also causes release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the mitochondria of the activated neutrophils. These ROS, and ROS generated by NADPH oxidase, are bactericidal agents of the innate immune system. In some inflammatory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the invading neutrophils become permanently activated, and the resulting ROS overproduction causes severe tissue damage. The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, seliciclib, blocks transcription through inhibition of cdk9. This results in a relatively rapid decline of antiapoptotic Mcl-1 transcripts in activated neutrophils, an increase in neutrophil apoptosis, and less ROS leakage and oxidative damage. We present here a model of neutrophil kinetics that simulates the principal pathways of c-Abl signalling and use it to explore possible treatment options for inflammatory lung disease.
Keywords: Abelson gene; COPD; Mcl-1; ROS; c-Abl; disease modelling; neutrophils; seliciclib.