Signaling through cGMP has therapeutic potential in the colon, where it has been implicated in the suppression of colitis and colon cancer. In this study, we tested the ability of cGMP and type 2 cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG2) to activate forkhead box O (FoxO) in colon cancer cells and in the colon epithelium of mice. We show that activation of PKG2 in colon cancer cells inhibited cell proliferation, inhibited AKT, and activated FoxO. Treatment of colon explants with 8Br-cGMP also activated FoxO target gene expression at both RNA and protein levels, and reduced epithelial reduction-oxidation (redox) stress. FoxO3a was the most prominent isoform in the distal colon epithelium, with prominent luminal staining. FoxO3a levels were reduced in Prkg2−/− animals, and FoxO target genes were unaffected by 8Br-cGMP challenge in vitro. Treatment of mice with the phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor vardenafil (Levitra) mobilized FoxO3a to the nucleus of luminal epithelial cells, which corresponded to increased FoxO target gene expression, reduced redox stress, and increased epithelial barrier integrity. Treatment of human colonic biopsy specimens with 8Br-cGMP also activated catalase and manganese superoxide dismutase expression, indicating that this pathway is conserved in humans. Taken together, these results identify a novel signaling pathway in the colon epithelium, where FoxO tumor suppressors could provide protection from redox stress. Moreover, this pathway is regulated by endogenous cGMP/PKG2 signaling, and can be targeted using phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine