Poxviruses express highly active inhibitors, including serine proteinase inhibitors (serpins), designed to target host immune defense pathways. Recent work has demonstrated clinical efficacy for a secreted, myxomaviral serpin, Serp-1, which targets the thrombotic and thrombolytic proteases, suggesting that other viral serpins may have therapeutic application. Serp-2 and CrmA are intracellular cross-class poxviral serpins, with entirely distinct functions from the Serp-1 protein. Serp-2 and CrmA block the serine protease granzyme B (GzmB) and cysteine proteases, caspases 1 and 8, in apoptotic pathways, but have not been examined for extracellular anti-inflammatory activity. We examined the ability of these cross-class serpins to inhibit plaque growth after arterial damage or transplant and to reduce leukocyte apoptosis. We observed that purified Serp-2, but not CrmA, given as a systemic infusion after angioplasty, transplant, or cuff-compression injury markedly reduced plaque growth in mouse and rat models in vivo. Plaque growth was inhibited both locally at sites of surgical trauma, angioplasty or transplant, and systemically at non-injured sites in ApoE-deficient hyperlipidemic mice. With analysis in vitro of human cells in culture, Serp-2 selectively inhibited T cell caspase activity and blocked cytotoxic T cell (CTL) mediated killing of T lymphocytes (termed fratricide). Conversely, both Serp-2 and CrmA inhibited monocyte apoptosis. Serp-2 inhibitory activity was significantly compromised either in vitro with GzmB antibody or in vivo in ApoE/GzmB double knockout mice. Conclusions The viral cross-class serpin, Serp-2, that targets both apoptotic and inflammatory pathways, reduces vascular inflammation in a GzmB-dependent fashion in vivo, and inhibits human T cell apoptosis in vitro. These findings indicate that therapies targeting Granzyme B and/or T cell apoptosis may be used to inhibit T lymphocyte apoptosis and inflammation in response to arterial injury.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)