Associate Professor Zuo Li’s Research Discovery on Gastrointestinal Malfunction Provides a New Perspective in Treating Crohn’s Disease


Recently, the associate professor Zuo Li from School of Basic Medical Sciences of Anhui Medical University, published a research paper entitled Tacrolimus-binding protein FKBP8 directs myosin light chain kinase-dependent barrier regulation and is a potential therapeutic target in Crohn’s disease in the international top journal Gut (IF=23.059). This research paper was cooperatively finished by professor Zuo Li and Harvard Medical School’s professor Jerrold R. Turner as joint corresponding authors and our university is the first author affiliation.

Myosin Light Chain Kianse (MLCK1) is the major regulatory factor of inflammation-reduced intestinal barrier loss. Under the inflammatory stimulation, MLCK1 is gathered to the ring of actomyosin and phosphorylates the myosin light chain, causing atrophy of cytoskeleton, the increase in permeability between epithelial cells, and the loss of intestinal barrier function. Nevertheless, how MLCK1 is gathered to the ring of cytoskeleton is still unknown.

The research found that Tacrolimus-binding protein FKBP8 is the critical  molecule that can regulate the transportation from myosin light chain kinase 1 to actomyosin. Through the process, FKBP8 combines with MLCK1 and also helps the transportation of MLCK1. However, the small molecule drug FK506 can block the combination between FKBP8 and MLCK1 so as to recover the intestinal barrier function. This research therefore provides a new way and a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of Crohn’s disease.

Paper Link