Although primarily required for the growth, differentiation, and survival of mast cells, Kit ligand (stem cell factor) is also required for optimal antigen-mediated mast cell activation. Therefore, concurrent inhibition of Kit- and FcepsilonRI-mediated signaling would be an attractive approach for targeting mast cell-driven allergic reactions. To explore this concept, we examined the effects of hypothemycin, a molecule that we identified as having such properties, in human and mouse mast cells. Hypothemycin blocked Kit activation and Kit-mediated mast cell adhesion in a similar manner to the well characterized Kit inhibitor imatinib mesylate (imatinib). In contrast to imatinib, however, hypothemycin also effectively inhibited FcepsilonRI-mediated degranulation and cytokine production in addition to the potentiation of these responses via Kit. The effect of hypothemycin on Kit-mediated responses could be explained by its inhibition of Kit kinase activity, whereas the inhibitory effects on FcepsilonRI-dependent signaling were at the level of Btk activation. Because hypothemycin also significantly reduced the mouse passive cutaneous anaphylaxis response in vivo, these data provide proof of principle for a coordinated approach for the suppression of mast cell activation and provide a rationale for the development of compounds with a similar therapeutic profile.
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