Epigenetic silencing of SOCS3 expression contributes to fibrosis in Crohn’s disease


Identified risk polymorphisms affecting the Jak-STAT3 pathway in patients with Crohn’s disease could affect TGF-β1 and collagen I expression and in the pathway’s negative regulator, SOCS3. Genetic factors, however, account for only ~25% of disease. Epigenetic events also shape gene expression. Recent experiments showed that autocrine IL-6 production in mesenchymal cells, subepithelial myofibroblasts (SEMF) and muscle cells, of patients with fibrostenotic Crohn’s disease causes sustained Jak-STAT3 activity, excess TGF-β1 and Collagen I production and fibrosis. SOCS3 paradoxically decreased in these cells. We now identify epigenetic mechanisms that silence SOCS3 expression in SEMF of patients with fibrostenotic Crohn’s disease. In a previous experiment, using isolated SEMF of normal ileum and affected ileum from patients with each Crohn’s phenotype, inflammatory (Montreal B1), fibrostenotic (B2) and penetrating (B3), we confirmed decreased SOCS3 protein levels were unique to B2 patients. Expression of miR-19b increased in SEMF of affected ileum. SOCS3 transcriptional activity decreased after transfection of miR-19b mimic and increased when antagomiR-19b was expressed. Epigenetic silencing of SOCS3 in ileal SEMF of patients with fibrostenotic Crohn’s disease occurs by increased miR-19b mediated inhibition of SOCS3

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