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MLN4924 inhibits hedgehog signaling pathway and activates autophagy to alleviate mouse laser-induced choroidal neovascularization lesion

Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), featured as choroidal neovascularization (CNV), can cause blindness in the elderly population. MLN4924, a highly selective small-molecule inhibitor of NEDD8 (neuronal precursor cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated protein 8)-activating enzyme (NAE), inhibits the proliferation, angiogenesis and inflammation of multiple cancers via up-regulating hedgehog pathway-regulated autophagy. MLN4924 intraperitoneal injection mitigated the leakage, area and volume of mouse laser-induced CNV lesion. Additionally, compared to CNV 7 d group, MLN4924 treated mouse retina-retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-choroid complex showed decreased expression of hedgehog pathway-associated molecules patched 1 (PTCH1), smoothened (SMO), GLI family zinc finger 1 (GLI1) and GLI family zinc finger 2 (GLI2) with increased expression of autophagy-associated molecules sequestosome 1 (p62) and LC microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3). Meanwhile, human choroidal endothelial cells (HCECs) exposed to hypoxia condition also showed decreased expression of hedgehog pathway-associated molecules and increased expression of autophagy-associated molecules. Compared to hypoxia + MLN4924 group, SMO agonist SAG up-regulated hedgehog pathway and down-regulated autophagy, whereas autophagy inhibitor PIK-III inhibited autophagy with no effect on hedgehog pathway, indicating that MLN4924 facilitated autophagy of HCECs via hindering hedgehog pathway under hypoxia condition. Finally, MLN4924 inhibited proliferation, migration and tube formation of HCECs via boosting hedgehog pathway-regulated autophagy. In summary, MLN4924 relieved the formation of mouse laser-induced CNV lesion might via up-regulating hedgehog pathway-regulated autophagy. The results provide a potential interfering strategy for nAMD targeting the autophagy of choroidal endothelial cells.

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