Source, Target and Biological Role of 14-3-3 Proteins in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common autoimmune disease worldwide and affects ~1% of Canadians. Its chronic inflammation causes pain and joint failure, eventually leading to disfiguration and disability. The cartilage and bone destruction of RA is thought to be caused by a certain family of enzymes, MMPs, that are capable of breaking down all joint components, causing severe damage and pain. Recently, 14-3-3 proteins were discovered to be critical communication proteins between skin cells during the healing process. 14-3-3 proteins also stimulate production of MMPs. Thus, the abnormally high amounts of 14-3-3 found in RA joints might be responsible for excess MMPs production, which leads to joint destruction. Jennifer is studying how 14-3-3 proteins may stimulate production of MMPs and lead to the joint destruction in RA. Ultimately, her work will contribute to the development of novel therapeutic strategies to diagnose and treat RA and other arthritic diseases.