Pleural fibrosis is defined as an excessive deposition of extracellular matrix that results in destruction of the normal pleural tissue architecture and compromised function. Tuberculous pleurisy, asbestos injury, and rheumatoid pleurisy are main causes of pleural fibrosis. Pleural mesothelial cells (PMCs) play a key role in pleural fibrosis. However, detailed mechanisms are poorly understood. Serine/arginine-rich protein SRSF6 belongs to a family of highly conserved RNA-binding splicing-factor proteins. Based on its known functions, SRSF6 should be expected to play a role in fibrotic diseases. However, the role of SRSF6 in pleural fibrosis remains unknown. In this study, SRSF6 protein was found to be increased in cells of tuberculous pleural effusions (TBPE) from patients, and decellularized TBPE, bleomycin, and TGF-β1 were confirmed to increase SRSF6 levels in PMCs. In vitro, SRSF6 mediated PMC proliferation and synthesis of the main fibrotic protein COL1A2. In vivo, SRSF6 inhibition prevented mouse experimental pleural fibrosis. Finally, activated SMAD2/3, increased SOX4, and depressed miRNA-506-3p were associated with SRSF6 upregulation in PMCs. These observations support a model in which SRSF6 induces pleural fibrosis through a cluster pathway, including SRSF6/WNT5A and SRSF6/SMAD1/5/9 signaling. In conclusion, we propose inhibition of the splicing factor SRSF6 as a strategy for treatment of pleural fibrosis.
Li-Mei Liang, Liang Xiong, Pei-Pei Cheng, Shuai-Jun Chen, Xiao Feng, Ya-Ya Zhou, Qian Niu, Meng Wang, Qianlan Chen, Lin-Jie Song, Fan Yu, Xin-Liang He, Fei Xiang, Xiaorong Wang, Hong Ye, Wan-Li Ma