1. Inflammation and Immune Mediated Diseases Laboratory of Anhui Province, Anhui Institute of Innovative Drugs, Hefei, China.
2. School of Pharmacy, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.
3. Institute for Liver Diseases of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.
4. General Thoracic Surgery, the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.
#Co-first authors with equal contributions to this work.
Alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) is the most common chronic liver disease worldwide; however, no effective treatment to prevent the progression of alcohol-related liver fibrosis (ALF) is available. CD73/NT5E, a nucleotidase, controls cellular homeostasis by combining extracellular purinergic signaling with intracellular kinase activity and gene transcription and is associated with cell proliferation, differentiation, and death. In this study, we demonstrated that CD73/NT5E had a more significant regulatory effect on the activation, proliferation, and apoptosis of HSCs compared with that of CD39/ENTPD1. We examined the expression of CD73/NT5E in the normal and fibrotic human livers. The absence of CD73/NT5E was protective in mouse models of ALF. In addition, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analyses showed that CD73/NT5E overexpression was related to the p53 signaling pathway, which regulates cell senescence. Proteins interacting with p53 were predicted using the STRING database. The overlap between proteomic analysis and STRING databases was for Aurora kinase A (AURKA), a cell cycle-regulated kinase. Coimmunoprecipitation (co-IP) assay and molecular docking confirmed that CD73/NT5E directly interacted with AURKA. We found that overexpression of CD73/NT5E inhibited AURKA ubiquitination, whereas p53 signaling was downregulated. Mechanistically, CD73/NT5E regulated ALF and the activation and senescence of stellate cells by binding to AURKA. These findings indicate that CD73/NT5E is a potential therapeutic target for ALF.
Keywords: Alcohol-related liver fibrosis (ALF), CD39-CD73-Adenosine axis, Aurora kinase A (AURKA), p53 signaling pathway