Sam68 contributes to intestinal inflammation in experimental and human colitis

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Dec;78(23):7635-7648. doi: 10.1007/s00018-021-03976-7. Epub 2021 Oct 24.


Sam68 is an RNA-binding protein with an adaptor role in signal transduction. Our previous work identified critical proinflammatory and apoptotic functions for Sam68, downstream of the TNF/TNFR1 and TLR2/3/4 pathways. Recent studies have shown elevated Sam68 in inflamed tissues from rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis (UC) patients, suggesting that Sam68 contributes to chronic inflammatory diseases. Here, we hypothesized that deletion of Sam68 is protective against experimental colitis in vivo, via reductions in TNF-associated inflammatory signaling. We used Sam68 knockout (KO) mice to study the role of Sam68 in experimental colitis, including its contributions to TNF-induced inflammatory gene expression in three-dimensional intestinal organoid cultures. We also studied the expression of Sam68 and inflammatory genes in colon tissues of UC patients. Sam68 KO mice treated with an acute course of DSS exhibited significantly less weight loss and histopathological inflammation compared to wild-type controls, suggesting that Sam68 contributes to experimental colitis. Bone marrow transplants showed no pathologic role for hematopoietic cell-specific Sam68, suggesting that non-hematopoietic Sam68 drives intestinal inflammation. Gene expression analyses showed that Sam68 deficiency reduced the expression of proinflammatory genes in colon tissues from DSS-treated mice, as well as TNF-treated three-dimensional colonic organoids. We also found that inflammatory genes, such as TNF, CCR2, CSF2, IL33 and CXCL10, as well as Sam68 protein, were upregulated in inflamed colon tissues of UC patients. This report identifies Sam68 as an important inflammatory driver in response to intestinal epithelial damage, suggesting that targeting Sam68 may hold promise to treat UC patients.

Keywords: Inflammation; Inflammatory bowel disease; KHDRBS1; NF-kappaB; TNF.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / genetics
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / metabolism
  • Colitis / pathology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / etiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dextran Sulfate / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • KHDRBS1 protein, human
  • Khdrbs1 protein, mouse
  • NF-kappa B
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Dextran Sulfate