Pharmacologic targeting of Cdc42 GTPase by a small molecule Cdc42 activity-specific inhibitor prevents platelet activation and thrombosis

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Gene targeting of Cdc42 GTPase has been shown to inhibit platelet activation. In this study, we investigated a hypothesis that inhibition of Cdc42 activity by CASIN, a small molecule Cdc42 Activity-Specific INhibitor, may down regulate platelet activation and thrombus formation. We investigated the effects of CASIN on platelet activation in vitro and thrombosis in vivo. In human platelets, CASIN, but not its inactive analog Pirl7, blocked collagen induced activation of Cdc42 and inhibited phosphorylation of its downstream effector, PAK1/2. Moreover, addition of CASIN to washed human platelets inhibited platelet spreading on immobilized fibrinogen. Treatment of human platelets with CASIN inhibited collagen or thrombin induced: (a) ATP secretion and platelet aggregation; and (b) phosphorylation of Akt, ERK and p38-MAPK. Pre-incubation of platelets with Pirl7, an inactive analog of CASIN, failed to inhibit collagen induced aggregation. Washing of human platelets after incubation with CASIN eliminated its inhibitory effect on collagen induced aggregation. Intraperitoneal administration of CASIN to wild type mice inhibited ex vivo aggregation induced by collagen but did not affect the murine tail bleeding times. CASIN administration, prior to laser-induced injury in murine cremaster muscle arterioles, resulted in formation of smaller and unstable thrombi compared to control mice without CASIN treatment. These data suggest that pharmacologic targeting of Cdc42 by specific and reversible inhibitors may lead to the discovery of novel antithrombotic agents.