N-Acetylglutaminoyl-S-farnesyl-L-cysteine (SIG-1191): an anti-inflammatory molecule that increases the expression of the aquaglyceroporin, aquaporin-3, in human keratinocytes.
Isoprenylcysteine (IPC) small molecules were discovered as signal transduction modulating compounds ~25 years ago. More recently, IPC molecules have demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in a variety of dermal cells as well as antimicrobial activity, representing a novel class of compounds to ameliorate skin conditions and disease. Here, we demonstrate a new IPC compound, N-acetylglutaminoyl-S-farnesyl-L-cysteine (SIG-1191), which inhibits UVB-induced inflammation blocking pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production. To investigate further the previously reported hydrating potential of IPC compounds, SIG-1191 was tested for its ability to modulate aquaporin expression. Specifically, aquaporin 3 (AQP3) the most abundant aquaporin found in skin has been reported to play a key role in skin hydration, elasticity and barrier repair. Results show here for the first time that SIG-1191 increases AQP3 expression in both cultured normal human epidermal keratinocytes as well as when applied topically in a three-dimensional (3D) reconstructed human skin equivalent. Additionally, SIG-1191 dose dependently increased AQP3 protein levels, as determined by specific antibody staining, in the epidermis of the 3D skin equivalents. To begin to elucidate which signaling pathways SIG-1191 may be modulating to increase AQP3 levels, we used several pharmacological pathway inhibitors and determined that AQP3 expression is mediated by the Mitogen-activated protein kinase/Extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) pathway. Altogether, these data suggest SIG-1191 represents a new IPC derivative with anti-inflammatory activity that may also promote increased skin hydration based on its ability to increase AQP3 levels.