Objective: Class 3 semaphorins regulate diverse cellular processes relevant to the pathology of RA, including immune modulation, angiogenesis, apoptosis and invasive cell migration. Therefore, we analysed the potential role of class 3 semaphorins in the pathology of RA.
Methods: Protein and mRNA expression in RA synovial tissue, SF and fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) were determined by immunoblotting and quantitative PCR (qPCR). RA FLS migration and invasion were determined using wound closure and transwell invasion assays, respectively. PlexinA1, neuropilin-1 and neuropilin-2 expression was knocked down using small interfering RNA (siRNA). Activation of FLS intracellular signalling pathways was assessed by immunoblotting.
Results: mRNA expression of semaphorins (Sema)3B, Sema3C, Sema3F and Sema3G was significantly lower in the synovial tissue of early arthritis patients at baseline who developed persistent disease compared with patients with self-limiting disease after 2 years follow-up. Sema3B and Sema3F expression was significantly lower in arthritis patients fulfilling classification criteria for RA compared with those who did not. FLS expression of Sema3A was induced after stimulation with TNF, IL-1β or lipopolysaccharides (LPS), while Sema3B and Sema3F expression was downregulated. Exogenously applied Sema3A induced the migration and invasive capacity of FLS, while stimulation with Sema3B or Sema3F reduced spontaneous FLS migration, and platelet-derived growth factor induced cell invasion, effects associated with differential regulation of MMP expression and mediated by the PlexinA1 and neuropilin-1 and -2 receptors.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that modulation of class 3 semaphorin signaling could be a novel therapeutic strategy for modulating the invasive behaviour of FLS in RA.