Type I collagen is the most abundant protein in human body. Fibrosis is characterized by excessive synthesis of type I collagen in parenchymal organs. It is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, about 45% of all natural deaths are attributable to some fibroproliferative disease. There is no cure for fibrosis. To find specific antifibrotic therapy targeting type I collagen, critical molecular interactions regulating its synthesis must be elucidated. Type I and type III collagen mRNAs have a unique sequence element at the 5' end, the 5' stem-loop. This stem-loop is not found in any other mRNA. We cloned LARP6 as the protein which binds collagen 5' stem-loop with high affinity and specificity. Mutation of the 5' stem-loop or knock down of LARP6 greatly diminishes collagen expression. Mice with mutation of the 5' stem-loop are resistant to development of liver fibrosis. LARP6 associates collagen mRNAs with filaments composed of nonmuscle myosin; disruption of these filaments abolishes synthesis of type I collagen. Thus, LARP6 dependent collagen synthesis is the specific mechanism of high collagen expression seen in fibrosis. We developed fluorescence polarization (FP) method to screen for drugs that can inhibit binding of LARP6 to 5' stem-loop RNA. FP is high when LARP6 is bound, but decreases to low levels when the binding is competed out. Thus, by measuring decrease in FP it is possible to identify chemical compounds that can dissociate LARP6 from the 5' stem-loop. The method is simple, fast and suitable for high throughput screening.
Keywords: Type I collagen, fibrosis, high throughput, drug screening, LARP6, fluorescence polarization, abundant protein, mRNAs, mechanism of high collagen
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