Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder, and disease-modifying OA drugs (DMOADs) represent a major need in OA management. Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) is a central transcription factor upregulating regenerative and protective functions in joint tissues. This study was aimed to identify small molecules activating KLF4 expression and to determine functions and mechanisms of the hit compounds. High-throughput screening (HTS) with 11,948 clinical-stage compounds was performed using a reporter cell line detecting endogenous KLF4 activation. Eighteen compounds were identified through the HTS and confirmed in a secondary screen. After testing in SW1353 chondrosarcoma cells and human chondrocytes, mocetinostat — a class I selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor — had the best profile of biological activities. Mocetinostat upregulated cartilage signature genes in human chondrocytes, meniscal cells, and BM-derived mesenchymal stem cells, and it downregulated hypertrophic, inflammatory, and catabolic genes in those cells and synoviocytes. I.p. administration of mocetinostat into mice reduced severity of OA-associated changes and improved pain behaviors. Global gene expression and proteomics analyses revealed that regenerative and protective effects of mocetinostat were dependent on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1-α. These findings show therapeutic and protective activities of mocetinostat against OA, qualifying it as a candidate to be used as a DMOAD.
Manabu Kawata, Daniel B. McClatchy, Jolene K. Diedrich, Merissa Olmer, Kristen A. Johnson, John R. Yates, Martin K. Lotz