AAV1.SERCA2a Gene Therapy Reverses Pulmonary Fibrosis by Blocking the STAT3/FOXM1 Pathway and Promoting the SNON/SKI Axis

Malik Bisserier, Yassine Abdeldjebbar, Carlos Bueno-Beti, Michael G. Katz, Yassine Sassi, Lahouaria Hadri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Inhibition of pulmonary fibrosis (PF) by restoring sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase 2a isoform (SERCA2a) expression using targeted gene therapy may be a potentially powerful new treatment approach for PF. Here, we found that SERCA2a expression was significantly decreased in lung samples from patients with PF and in the bleomycin (BLM) mouse model of PF. In the BLM-induced PF model, intratracheal aerosolized adeno-associated virus serotype 1 (AAV1) encoding for human SERCA2a (AAV1.hSERCA2a) reduces lung fibrosis and associated vascular remodeling. SERCA2a gene therapy also decreases right ventricular pressure and hypertrophy in both prevention and curative protocols. In vitro, we observed that SERCA2a overexpression inhibits fibroblast proliferation, migration, and fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition induced by transforming growth factor β (TGF-β1). Thus, pro-fibrotic gene expression is prevented by blocking nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)/interleukin-6 (IL-6)-induced signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) activation. This effect is signaled toward an inhibitory mechanism of small mother against decapentaplegic (SMAD)/TGF-β signaling through the repression of OTU deubiquitinase, ubiquitin aldehyde binding 1 (OTUB1) and Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1). Interestingly, this cross-inhibition leads to an increase of SKI and SnoN expression, an auto-inhibitory feedback loop of TGF-β signaling. Collectively, our results demonstrate that SERCA2a gene transfer attenuates bleomycin (BLM)-induced PF by blocking the STAT3/FOXM1 pathway and promoting the SNON/SKI Axis. Thus, SERCA2a gene therapy may be a potential therapeutic target for PF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-410
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 5 Feb 2020


  • SERCA2a
  • TGF-β signaling
  • adeno-associated virus
  • bleomycin
  • gene therapy
  • pulmonary fibrosis


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