The mucociliary clearance system is comprised of three components, ion transport activities controlling the height of airway surface liquid (ASL), mucin secretion, and ciliary activity. These activities in humans are controlled principally by local agonists, extracellular nucleotides and nucleosides released from the epithelium. Importantly, mechanical stresses stimulate goblet cell mucin secretion, ciliary beating, and Cl− and fluid secretion through mechanically-induced nucleotide release. Emerging evidence also implicates co-secretion of nucleotides and mucin from goblet cells as a source of extracellular agonist. At rest, ATP is released onto airway surfaces at ∼370 fmoles/min cm2, but only ∼3% of released ATP is recovered in ASL. Secreted UTP meets with a similar fate. A wide variety of hydrolytic and trans-phosphorylating ecto-enzymes convert the triphosphate nucleotides into ADP, AMP, and adenosine, UDP, UMP, and uridine. Of these, ATP, adenosine, UTP, and UDP act as agonists at apical P2Y2 (ATP, UTP), P2Y6 (UDP), and A2B (adenosine) receptors on ciliated and/or goblet cells to regulate mucociliary clearance.
A major characteristic of asthmatic airways is an increase in mucin (the glycoprotein component of mucus) producing and secreting cells, which leads to increased mucin release that further clogs constricted airways and contributes markedly to airway obstruction and, in the most severe cases, to status asthmaticus. Asthmatic airways show both a hyperplasia and metaplasia of goblet cells, mucin-producing cells in the epithelium; hyperplasia refers to enhanced numbers of goblet cells in larger airways, while metaplasia refers to the appearance of these cells in smaller airways where they normally are not seen. With the number of mucin-producing and secreting cells increased, there is a coincident hypersecretion of mucin which characterizes asthma. On a cellular level, a major regulator of airway mucin secretion in both in vitro and in vivo studies has been shown to be MARCKS (Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C Kinase substrate) protein, a ubiquitous substrate of protein kinase C (PKC). In this review, properties of MARCKS and how the protein may regulate mucin secretion at a cellular level will be discussed. In addition, the roles of MARCKS in airway inflammation related to both influx of inflammatory cells into the lung and release of granules containing inflammatory mediators by these cells will be explored.
Mucin hypersecretion is a prominent feature of obstructive airway diseases such as asthma. Clara cells conditionally produce mucin in response to inflammatory signals in a process termed mucous metaplasia. This can be followed by mucin secretion stimulated by various signaling molecules. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate mucin production and secretion are not well understood. Adenosine is a signaling nucleoside that has been implicated in airway diseases in which mucus obstruction is prominent. Furthermore, the A3 adenosine receptor (A3AR) is upregulated in mucin-producing goblet cells of the airway, thereby implicating it in processes involved in mucous cell biology. Here we use genetic approaches to investigate the contribution of A3AR signaling to mucus production and secretion in a mouse model of allergen-induced pulmonary disease. We found that the degree of mucin production in response to allergen is similar in wild-type and A3AR-deficient mice, and that overexpression of this receptor in Clara cells neither induces mucin production itself, nor enhances mucin production in response to allergen challenge. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate that the A3AR is neither necessary nor sufficient for mucous cell metaplasia. In contrast to the lack of effect on mucin production, agonist-induced mucin secretion was increased in goblet cells overexpressing the A3AR, and was absent in A3AR-deficient mice. Thus, the A3AR contributes to mucin secretion in allergen-induced metaplasia. Signaling through this receptor may contribute to mucus airway obstruction seen in pulmonary disorders in which adenosine levels are elevated.
mucin; mucous cell metaplasia; secretion; adenosine receptors; allergic lung disease
Goblet cell metaplasia that causes mucus hypersecretion and obstruction in the airway lumen could be life threatening in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. Inflammatory cytokines such as IL-13 mediate the transformation of airway ciliary epithelial cells to mucin-secreting goblet cells in acute as well as chronic airway inflammatory diseases. However, no effective and specific pharmacologic treatment is currently available. Here, we investigated the mechanisms by which aldose reductase (AR) regulates the mucus cell metaplasia in vitro and in vivo.
Metaplasia in primary human small airway epithelial cells (SAEC) was induced by a Th2 cytokine, IL-13, without or with AR inhibitor, fidarestat. After 48 h of incubation with IL-13 a large number of SAEC were transformed into goblet cells as determined by periodic acid-schiff (PAS)-staining and immunohistochemistry using antibodies against Mucin5AC. Further, IL-13 significantly increased the expression of Mucin5AC at mRNA and protein levels. These changes were significantly prevented by treatment of the SAEC with AR inhibitor. AR inhibition also decreased IL-13-induced expression of Muc5AC, Muc5B, and SPDEF, and phosphorylation of JAK-1, ERK1/2 and STAT-6. In a mouse model of ragweed pollen extract (RWE)-induced allergic asthma treatment with fidarestat prevented the expression of IL-13, phosphorylation of STAT-6 and transformation of epithelial cells to goblet cells in the lung. Additionally, while the AR-null mice were resistant, wild-type mice showed goblet cell metaplasia after challenge with RWE.
The results show that exposure of SAEC to IL-13 caused goblet cell metaplasia, which was significantly prevented by AR inhibition. Administration of fidarestat to mice prevented RWE-induced goblet cell metaplasia and AR null mice were largely resistant to allergen induced changes in the lung. Thus our results indicate that AR inhibitors such as fidarestat could be developed as therapeutic agents to prevent goblet cell metaplasia in asthma and related pathologies.
Mucous cell metaplasia is induced in response to harmful insults and provides front-line protection to clear the airway of toxic substances and cellular debris. In chronic airway diseases mucous metaplasia persists and results in airway obstruction and contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality. Mucus hypersecretion involves increased expression of mucin genes, and increased mucin production and release. The past decade has seen significant advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which these events occur. Inflammation stimulates epidermal growth factor receptor activation and IL-13 to induce both Clara and ciliated cells to transition into goblet cells through the coordinated actions of FoxA2, TTF-1, SPDEF, and GABAAR. Ultimately, these steps lead to up-regulation of MUC5AC expression, and increased mucin in goblet cell granules that fuse to the plasma membrane through actions of MARCKS, SNAREs, and Munc proteins. Blockade of mucus in exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may affect morbidity. Development of new therapies to target mucus production and secretion are now possible given the advances in our understanding of molecular mechanisms of mucous metaplasia. We now have a greater incentive to focus on inhibition of mucus as a therapy for chronic airway diseases.
mucus; goblet cell; airway epithelium; asthma; COPD
We have determined the potential of exoproducts from pathogenic bacteria to stimulate the release of high molecular weight mucins from goblet cells of airway epithelium in a rabbit tracheal explant system. Culture supernatants from proteolytic strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Serratia marcescens, but not supernatants from a number of non-proteolytic strains, released mucins from goblet cells. Highly purified elastase and alkaline proteinase from P. aeruginosa stimulated goblet cell mucin release in a dose-dependent fashion. Lipopolysaccharide, exotoxin A, and alginate of P. aeruginosa did not possess mucin release properties. Proteolytic activity was required for mucin release by P. aeruginosa elastase, but such release in goblet cells was not mediated by cyclic AMP. Morphologic studies suggested rapid release of mucins from goblet cells was response to elastase by a process resembling apocrine secretion. Several nonbacterial proteinases mimicked the effect of Pseudomonas proteases. These studies provide support for the hypothesis that bacterial and other play a role in the pathogenesis of mucus hypersecretion in acute and chronic lung infections.
Infection of airway epithelium by rhinovirus is the most common cause of asthma exacerbations. Even in mild asthma, airway epithelium exhibits mucous metaplasia, which increases with increasing severity of the disease. We previously showed that squamous cultures of human airway epithelium manifest rhinoviral infection at levels many times higher than in well-differentiated cultures of a mucociliary phenotype. Here we tested the hypothesis that mucous metaplasia is also associated with increased levels of rhinoviral infection. Mucous metaplasia was induced with IL-13, which doubled the numbers of goblet cells. In both control (mucociliary) and IL-13– treated (mucous metaplastic) cultures, goblet cells were preferentially infected by rhinovirus. IL-13 doubled the numbers of infected cells by increasing the numbers of infected goblet cells. Furthermore, IL-13 increased both the maturity of goblet cells and the probability that a goblet cell would be infected. The infection of cells other than goblet cells was unaltered by IL-13. Treatment with IL-13 did not alter the levels of rhinovirus receptor ICAM-1, nor did the proliferative effects of IL-13 enhance infection, because rhinovirus did not colocalize with dividing cells. However, the induction of mucous metaplasia caused changes in the apical membrane structure, notably a marked decrease in overall ciliation, and an increase in the overall flatness of the apical surface. We conclude that mucous metaplasia in asthma increases the susceptibility of airway epithelium to infection by rhinovirus because of changes in the overall architecture of the apical surface.
asthma; interleukin-13; rhinovirus; respiratory tract infection; goblet cells
Background. Mucociliary transport (MCT) is a defense mechanism of the airway. To study the underlying mechanisms of MCT, we have both developed an experimental model of cultures, from human adenoid tissue of ciliated and secretory cells, and characterized the response to local chemical signals that control ciliary activity and the secretion of respiratory mucins in vitro. Materials and Methods. In ciliated cell cultures, ciliary beat frequency (CBF) and intracellular Ca2+ levels were measured in response to ATP, UTP, and adenosine. In secretory cultures, mucin synthesis and secretion were identified by using immunodetection. Mucin content was taken from conditioned medium and analyzed in the presence or absence of UTP. Results. Enriched ciliated cell monolayers and secretory cells were obtained. Ciliated cells showed a basal CBF of 10.7 Hz that increased significantly after exposure to ATP, UTP, or adenosine. Mature secretory cells showed active secretion of granules containing different glycoproteins, including MUC5AC. Conclusion. Culture of ciliated and secretory cells grown from adenoid epithelium is a reproducible and feasible experimental model, in which it is possible to observe ciliary and secretory activities, with a potential use as a model to understand mucociliary transport control mechanisms.
Extracellular ATP and its metabolite adenosine regulate mucociliary clearance in airway epithelia. Little has been known, however, regarding the actual ATP and adenosine concentrations in the thin (~7 μm) liquid layer lining native airway surfaces and the link between ATP release/metabolism and autocrine/paracrine regulation of epithelial function. In this study, chimeric Staphylococcus aureus protein A-luciferase (SPA-luc) was bound to endogenous antigens on primary human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cell surface and ATP concentrations assessed in real-time in the thin airway surface liquid (ASL). ATP concentrations on resting cells were 1–10 nM. Inhibition of ecto-nucleotidases resulted in ATP accumulation at a rate of ~250 fmol/min/cm2, reflecting the basal ATP release rate. Following hypotonic challenge to promote cell swelling, cell-surface ATP concentration measured by SPA-luc transiently reached ~1 μM independent of ASL volume, reflecting a transient 3-log increase in ATP release rates. In contrast, peak ATP concentrations measured in bulk ASL by soluble luciferase inversely correlated with volume. ATP release rates were intra-cellular calcium-independent, suggesting that non-exocytotic ATP release from ciliated cells, which dominate our cultures, mediated hypotonicity-induced nucleotide release. However, the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) did not participate in this function. Following the acute swelling phase, HBE cells exhibited regulatory volume decrease which was impaired by apyrase and facilitated by ATP or UTP. Our data provide the first evidence that ATP concentrations at the airway epithelial surface reach the range for P2Y2 receptor activation by physiological stimuli and identify a role for mucosal ATP release in airway epithelial cell volume regulation.
Epithelial hyperplasia and metaplasia are common features of inflammatory and neoplastic disease, but the basis for the altered epithelial phenotype is often uncertain. Here we show that long-term ciliated cell hyperplasia coincides with mucous (goblet) cell metaplasia after respiratory viral clearance in mouse airways. This chronic switch in epithelial behavior exhibits genetic susceptibility and depends on persistent activation of EGFR signaling to PI3K that prevents apoptosis of ciliated cells and on IL-13 signaling that promotes transdifferentiation of ciliated to goblet cells. Thus, EGFR blockade (using an irreversible EGFR kinase inhibitor designated EKB-569) prevents virus-induced increases in ciliated and goblet cells whereas IL-13 blockade (using s-IL-13Rα2-Fc) exacerbates ciliated cell hyperplasia but still inhibits goblet cell metaplasia. The distinct effects of EGFR and IL-13 inhibitors after viral reprogramming suggest that these combined therapeutic strategies may also correct epithelial architecture in the setting of airway inflammatory disorders characterized by a similar pattern of chronic EGFR activation, IL-13 expression, and ciliated-to-goblet cell metaplasia.
To examine the in vivo effects of the 15-member macrolide, azithromycin (AZM), on mucus hypersecretion, we induced hypertrophic and metaplastic changes of goblet cells in rat nasal epithelium by intranasal instillation of ovalbumin (OVA) in OVA-sensitized rats, or by intranasal lipopolysaccharides (LPS) instillation. Oral administration of AZM (5–10 mg/kg) or clarithromycin (CAM, 5–10 mg/kg) significantly inhibited OVA- and LPS-induced mucus production, whereas josamycin (JM) or ampicillin (ABPC) showed no effect. In vitro effects of AZM on airway epithelial cells were examined using NCI-H292 cells and human nasal epithelial cells cultured in air-liquid interface. Mucus secretion was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using an anti-MUC5AC monoclonal antibody. AZM or CAM significantly inhibited tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) (20 ng/mL)-induced MUC5AC secretion from NCI-H292 cells at 10−6–10−7 M, whereas JM or ABPC showed no effect. AZM significantly inhibited TNF-α (20 ng/mL)-induced MUC5AC secretion from human nasal epithelial cells at 10−4 M. MUC5AC mRNA expression was also significantly inhibited. These results indicate that the 15-member macrolide, AZM, exerts direct inhibitory effects on mucus secretion from airway epithelial cells and that it may be useful for the treatment of mucus hypersecretion caused by allergic inflammation and LPS stimulation.
Excess mucus in the airways leads to obstruction in diseases such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, and cystic fibrosis. Mucins, the highly glycosolated protein components of mucus, are stored in membrane-bound granules housed in the cytoplasm of airway epithelial "goblet" cells until they are secreted into the airway lumen via an exocytotic process. Precise mechanism(s) of mucin secretion, including the specific proteins involved in the process, have yet to be elucidated. Previously, we have shown that the Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C Kinase Substrate (MARCKS) protein regulates mucin secretion by orchestrating translocation of mucin granules from the cytosol to the plasma membrane, where the granules dock, fuse and release their contents into the airway lumen. Associated with MARCKS in this process are chaperone (Heat Shock Protein 70 [HSP70], Cysteine string protein [CSP]) and cytoskeletal (actin, myosin) proteins. However, additional granule-associated proteins that may be involved in secretion have not yet been elucidated.
Here, we isolated mucin granules and granule membranes from primary cultures of well differentiated human bronchial epithelial cells utilizing a novel technique of immuno-isolation, based on the presence of the calcium activated chloride channel hCLCA1 (the human ortholog of murine Gob-5) on the granule membranes, and verified via Western blotting and co-immunoprecipitation that MARCKS, HSP70, CSP and hCLCA1 were present on the granule membranes and associated with each other. We then subjected the isolated granules/membranes to liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to identify other granule associated proteins.
A number of additional cytoskeletal (e.g. Myosin Vc) and regulatory proteins (e.g. Protein phosphatase 4) associated with the granules and could play a role in secretion were discovered. This is the first description of the airway goblet cell "granulome."
In animal models of asthma, interleukin-13 (IL-13) induces goblet cell metaplasia, eosinophil infiltration of the bronchial mucosa, and bronchial hyperreactivity, but the basis of its effects on airway epithelia remain unknown. Lesions of the epithelial barrier, frequently observed in asthma and other chronic lung inflammatory diseases, are repaired through proliferation, migration, and differentiation of epithelial cells. An inflammatory process may then, therefore, influence epithelial regeneration. We have thus investigated the effect of IL-13 on mucociliary differentiation of human nasal epithelial cells in primary culture. We show that IL-13 alters ciliated cell differentiation and increases the proportion of secretory cells. IL-13 downregulates the actin-binding protein ezrin and other cytoskeletal components. IL-13 also impairs lateral cell contacts and interferes with the apical localization of ezrin seen in differentiated ciliated cells. In addition, an IL-4 antagonistic mutant protein (Y124D), which binds to the IL-4 receptor α subunit, a common chain of IL-4 and IL-13 receptors, inhibits IL-13’s effects. IL-13 also decreases ciliary beat frequency in a time- and dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that, in human allergic asthmatic responses, IL-13 affects both ciliated and secretory cell differentiation, leading to airway damage and obstruction.
Goblet cell hyperplasia and mucous hypersecretion contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic pulmonary diseases including cystic fibrosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the present work, mouse SAM pointed domain-containing ETS transcription factor (SPDEF) mRNA and protein were detected in subsets of epithelial cells lining the trachea, bronchi, and tracheal glands. SPDEF interacted with the C-terminal domain of thyroid transcription factor 1, activating transcription of genes expressed selectively in airway epithelial cells, including Sftpa, Scgb1a1, Foxj1, and Sox17. Expression of Spdef in the respiratory epithelium of adult transgenic mice caused goblet cell hyperplasia, inducing both acidic and neutral mucins in vivo, and stainined for both acidic and neutral mucins in vivo. SPDEF expression was increased at sites of goblet cell hyperplasia caused by IL-13 and dust mite allergen in a process that was dependent upon STAT-6. SPDEF was induced following intratracheal allergen exposure and after Th2 cytokine stimulation and was sufficient to cause goblet cell differentiation of Clara cells in vivo.
Mucus overproduction in inflammatory and obstructive airway diseases is associated with goblet cell (GC) metaplasia in airways. Although the mechanisms involved in GC metaplasia and mucus hypersecretion are not completely understood, association with oxidative stress and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling has been reported. To explore the mechanisms involved in oxidative stress–induced GC metaplasia, cultures of differentiated normal human bronchial epithelial cells grown at the air–liquid interface were exposed to reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by xanthine/xanthine oxidase. EGFR activation and signaling was assessed by measuring EGF and transforming growth factor-α release and EGFR and 44/42MAPK phosphorylation. The GC population was evaluated by confocal microscopy. ROS-induced EGFR activation resulted in GC proliferation and increased MUC5AC gene and protein expression. Signaling was due to pro-EGF processing by tissue kallikrein (TK), which was activated by ROS-induced hyaluronan breakdown. It was inhibited by catalase, a TK inhibitor, and EGF-blocking antibodies. Exposure to recombinant TK mimicked the ROS effects, increasing the expression of MUC5AC and lactoperoxidase. In addition, ROS induced the antiapoptotic factor Bcl-2 in a TK-dependent fashion. In conclusion, ROS-induced GC metaplasia in normal human bronchial epithelial cells is associated with HA depolymerization and EGF processing by TK followed by EGFR signaling, suggesting that increases in TK activity could contribute to GC metaplasia and mucus hypersecretion in diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis. The data also suggest that increases in GC population could be sustained by the associated upregulation of Bcl-2 in airway epithelial cells.
EGFR; goblet cells; hyaluronan; NHBE cells; tissue kallikrein
The amount of mucin on the ocular surface is regulated by the rate of mucin synthesis, mucin secretion, and the number of goblet cells. We have previously shown that cholinergic agonists are potent stimuli of mucin secretion. In contrast, there have been no studies on the control of goblet cell proliferation. In this study we investigate the presence of the EGF family of growth factors and their receptors in rat conjunctiva and cultured rat conjunctival goblet cells as well as their effects on activation of signaling intermediates and goblet cell proliferation. Rat conjunctival goblet cells were grown in organ culture and identified as goblet cells by their morphology and positive staining for the lectin UEA-1 and cytokeratin 7. In the rat conjunctiva, the presence of the EGF family members epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor α (TGF-α), heparin binding EGF (HB-EGF), and heregulin was determined by RT-PCR. The receptors for these ligands, EGF receptor (EGFR), erbB2, erbB3, and erbB4 were detected in both rat conjunctiva and goblet cells by Western blot analysis. Immunofluorescence microscopy of conjunctival tissue determined that EGFR was present as punctate staining in the cytoplasm of conjunctival goblet cells while ErbB2 was present in the basolateral and lateral membranes of goblet cells. ErbB3 was localized to the cytosol of rat conjunctival goblet cells. In cultured goblet cells, EGFR and ErbB2 were present in the perinuclear area of the cells. ErbB3 was widely distributed throughout the cytoplasm of the cells. ErbB4 was not detected in either the conjunctiva or goblet cells by immunofluorescence microscopy. Using a multiplex assay system we measured phosphorylation (activation) of p44/p42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), also known as ERK, Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), p38 MAPK and AKT (also known as protein kinase B), molecules known to be activated by EGF receptor members. EGF, TGF-α and HB-EGF activated the signaling intermediate proteins whereas heregulin did not. No EGF family member significantly activated AKT. Consistent with these findings, EGF, TGF-α and HB-EGF each stimulated goblet cell proliferation as measured by WST-1 assay or immunofluorescence microscopy using an antibody against Ki-67, a protein expressed in dividing cells. Heregulin did not cause goblet cell proliferation. We conclude that multiple members of the EGF family, EGF, TGF-α and HB-EGF, and heregulin are present with three of the four erbB receptor subtypes. EGF, TGF-α and HB-EGF all stimulated the activation of signaling intermediates and caused goblet cell proliferation.
goblet cell; proliferation; secretion; conjunctiva
Rationale: The factors that control the secretion of epithelial mucins are essential to understanding obstructive airway diseases such as asthma. Although the complement anaphylatoxin C3a and its receptor have been shown to promote many features of allergic lung inflammation, the contribution to mucin expression has not been elucidated.
Objectives: To determine if the C3a receptor with its ligand regulates airway epithelial mucin production.
Methods: Mice deficient in the C3a receptor were examined in a model of allergic airway disease for the presence of goblet cells and the gel-forming secreted mucin Muc5ac.
Measurements and Main Results: Lungs from antigen-challenged C3a receptor–deficient mice revealed a dramatic decrease in goblet cells and Muc5ac compared with challenged wild-type control animals. These differences were dependent on C3a binding to its receptor since intranasal challenge with C3a induced the formation of goblet cells only in wild-type but not C3a receptor–deficient mice. Increased numbers of goblet cells were also found in C3a-stimulated RAG-1–deficient mice demonstrating a mechanism independent of T lymphocytes and Th2 cytokines, mediators which have been shown to regulate mucin expression. A direct physiological role for C3a in these models was further demonstrated in cultures of airway epithelial Clara cells, which not only express the C3a receptor but also produce Muc5ac in response to C3a.
Conclusions: These studies identify a novel C3a receptor–dependent mechanism in the development of airway epithelial goblet cells and regulation of Muc5ac production and implicate C3a as a mediator of airway obstruction in asthma.
T cells; allergy; lung; inflammation
The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane that covers the sclera and lines the inside of the eyelids. Throughout the conjunctiva are goblet cells that secrete mucins to protect the eye. Chronic inflammatory diseases such as allergic conjunctivitis and early dry eye lead to increased goblet cell mucin secretion into tears and ocular surface disease. The purpose of this study was to determine the actions of the inflammatory mediators, the leukotrienes and the proresolution resolvins, on secretion from cultured rat and human conjunctival goblet cells. We found that both cysteinyl leukotriene (CysLT) receptors, CysLT1 and CysLT2, were present in rat conjunctiva and in rat and human cultured conjunctival goblet cells. All leukotrienes LTB4, LTC4, LTD4, and LTE4, as well as PGD2, stimulated goblet cell secretion in rat goblet cells. LTD4 and LTE4 increased the intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), and LTD4 activated ERK1/2. The CysLT1 receptor antagonist MK571 significantly decreased LTD4-stimulated rat goblet cell secretion and the increase in [Ca2+]i. Resolvins D1 (RvD1) and E1 (RvE1) completely reduced LTD4-stimulated goblet cell secretion in cultured rat goblet cells. LTD4-induced secretion from human goblet cells was blocked by RvD1. RvD1 and RvE1 prevented LTD4- and LTE4-stimulated increases in [Ca2+]i, as well as LTD4 activation of ERK1/2. We conclude that cysteinyl leukotrienes stimulate conjunctival goblet cell mucous secretion with LTD4 using the CysLT1 receptor. Stimulated secretion is terminated by preventing the increase in [Ca2+]i and activation of ERK1/2 by RvD1 and RvE1.
Conjunctival goblet cells synthesize and secrete mucins onto the ocular surface to lubricate it and protect it from bacterial infections. Mucin secretion is under neural control, and cholinergic agonists released from parasympathetic nerves are major stimuli of this secretion. The signal transduction pathways these agonists use to stimulate secretion involve activating protein kinase C (PKC) and increasing intracellular [Ca2+] to activate the non-receptor kinases Pyk2 and p60Src (Src) to transactivate the EGF receptor. Transactivation of the EGF receptor activates a kinase cascade culminating in the activation of p42/p44 MAPK (MAPK) and ultimately that leads to secretion of high molecular weight glycocongujates (HMWGC), including mucins. To further examine the roles of PKC and Ca2+ in the activation of MAPK, Pyk2, and Src in mucin secretion, rat conjunctival pieces and cultured goblet cells were incubated with the PKC activator phorbol myristate acid (PMA), the cholinergic agonist carbachol, or the calcium ionophore, ionomycin for varying times. Conjunctival pieces were preincubated with PKC inhibitors 10 mins prior to addition of carbachol (10−4 M) for 10 min. The amount of phosphorylated (activated) MAPK, Pyk2 and Src was determined by western blotting techniques using antibodies specific to the phosphorylated forms of each kinase. PMA significantly increased the activation of MAPK, Pyk2, and Src in a time and concentration-dependent manner. PMA-stimulated MAPK activity was completely inhibited by the EGF receptor inhibitor AG1478 (10−7 M). Carbachol-stimulated MAPK activity was inhibited by three PKC inhibitors, calphostin C, chelethyrine, and staurosporine. Ionomycin (10−6 M)-stimulated MAPK activity was inhibited 66% by AG1478 (10−7 M). Ionomycin also significantly increased Pyk2 and Src in time dependent manner. PKC and ionomycin also activated p42/p44 MAPL, Pyk2, and Src in cultured conjunctival goblet cells. We conclude that PKC and intracellular Ca2+ activate Pyk2 and Src and phosphorylated the EGF receptor leading to stimulation of MAPK in conjunctival goblet cells.
goblet cells; signal transduction; MAPK; mucin secretion
PAR-2, a member of a family of G-protein-coupled receptors, can be activated by serine proteases via proteolytic cleavage. PAR-2 expression is known to be upregulated in respiratory epithelium subsequent to inflammation in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Since these diseases also are characterized by excessive mucus production and secretion, we investigated whether PAR-2 could be linked to mucin hypersecretion by airway epithelium. Normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells in primary culture or the human bronchial epithelial cell lines, NCI-H292 and HBE-1, were used. NHBE, NCI-H292, and HBE-1 cells expressed prominent levels of PAR-2 protein. Short term (30 min) exposure of cells to the synthetic PAR-2 agonist peptide (SLIGKV-NH2) elicited a small but statistically significant increase in mucin secretion at high concentrations (100µM and 1000µM), compared to a control peptide with reversed amino acid sequence (VKGILS-NH2). Neither human lung tryptase nor bovine pancreatic trypsin, both PAR-2 agonists, affected NHBE cell mucin secretion when added over a range of concentrations. Knockdown of PAR-2 expression by siRNA blocked the stimulatory effect of the AP. The results suggest that, since PAR-2 activation only weakly increases mucin secretion by human airway epithelial cells in vitro, PAR-2 probably is not a significant contributor to mucin hypersecretion in inflamed airways.
PAR-2; mucin; airway; secretion
Barrett's esophagus (BE) is defined by the presence of metaplastic esophageal columnar epithelium with goblet cells within endoscopically recognizable areas of the esophagus. However, some carcinomas in BE, or from the GEJ region, develop within mucosa devoid of goblet cells. However, the biological properties, pathogenesis, and risk of malignancy of metaplastic, esophageal non-goblet columnar epithelium, is, essentially, unknown. In this study, 89 patients with metaplastic esophageal columnar epithelium were evaluated immunohistochemically for markers of intestinal differentiation, such as MUC2, DAS-1, Villin, and CDX2, a marker of gastric differentiation (MUC5AC), and Ki67, a marker of cell proliferation. Of the 89 patients, 59 had columnar metaplasia with goblet cells (BE), which were further separated into low density goblet cell and high density goblet cell groups based on the percentage of crypts with goblet cells, and 30 patients had columnar metaplasia of the esophagus without goblet cells. As controls, gastric biopsies from 19 age and sex matched patients without esophageal or gastric pathology were used. The rate of positivity of the markers and the location of Ki67 staining was evaluated only in non-goblet columnar epithelium from all patient groups. Patients with metaplastic esophageal columnar epithelium without goblet cells showed positivity for MUC5AC, MUC2, DAS-1, Villin, and CDX2 in 100%, 0%, 30%, 70%, and 43% of cases, respectively. 17% of cases showed aberrant surface Ki67 positivity. These values were significantly higher than gastric controls, which showed absence of staining for all markers except MUC5AC (100%). In patients with metaplastic esophageal columnar epithelium with goblet cells (BE) a significant increased rate of staining was observed for all markers, except MUC5AC. In addition, both MUC2 and surface Ki67 staining were significantly increased in BE patients with high density goblet cells versus those with low-density goblet cells. In a separate analysis in which metaplastic esophageal non-goblet epithelium was evaluated in areas of mucosa devoid of goblet cells compared to areas of mucosa with goblet cells, from patients who had goblet cells elsewhere in the mucosa (N=59), no significant differences were observed with regard to the percentage of cases that stained with any of the markers in the non-goblet epithelium in areas devoid of goblet cells, similar to the patient group with metaplastic esophageal epithelium without goblet cells (N=30). Similar to above, in all cases, expression of intestinal markers increased in areas of mucosa adjacent to goblet cells. This study provides evidence that metaplastic esophageal columnar epithelium without goblet cells shows phenotypic evidence of intestinal differentiation and supports the theory that squamous epithelium converts initially to non-goblet columnar epithelium prior to goblet cell metaplasia. Further prospective studies are needed to evaluate the pathogenetic sequence, natural history, and risk of malignancy of metaplastic esophageal non-goblet epithelium.
Mucous hypersecretion is a major cause of airway obstruction in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis. EGFR ligands and IL-13 are known to stimulate mucous induction, but the detailed mechanisms of epithelial mucous regulation have not been well defined. In this issue of the JCI, Tyner et al. show, in a mouse model of chronic mucous hypersecretion, that ciliated epithelial cell apoptosis is inhibited by EGFR activation, allowing IL-13 to stimulate the differentiation of these cells into goblet cells, which secrete mucus. In defining this coordinated, 2-step process, we can consider the therapeutic effects of blocking mucous production. This begs the question, Is it possible to reduce airway obstruction in chronic lung disease by inhibiting EGFR activation and/or by inhibiting IL-13?
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) are human-adapted Gram-negative bacteria that can cause recurrent and chronic infections of the respiratory mucosa 1; 2. To study the mechanisms by which these organisms survive on and inside respiratory tissues, a model in which successful long-term co-culture of bacteria and human cells can be performed is required. We use primary human respiratory epithelial tissues raised to the air-liquid interface, the EpiAirway™ model (MatTek, Ashland, MA). These are non-immortalized, well-differentiated, 3-dimensional tissues that contain tight junctions, ciliated and nonciliated cells, goblet cells that produce mucin, and retain the ability to produce cytokines in response to infection.
This biologically relevant in vitro model of the human upper airway can be used in a number of ways; the overall goal of this method is to perform long-term co-culture of EpiAirway tissues with NTHi and quantitate cell-associated and internalized bacteria over time. As well, mucin production and the cytokine profile of the infected co-cultures can be determined. This approach improves upon existing methods in that many current protocols use submerged monolayer or Transwell cultures of human cells, which are not capable of supporting bacterial infections over extended periods3. For example, if an organism can replicate in the overlying media, this can result in unacceptable levels of cytotoxicity and loss of host cells, arresting the experiment. The EpiAirway model allows characterization of long-term host-pathogen interactions. Further, since the source for the EpiAirway is normal human tracheo-bronchial cells rather than an immortalized line, each is an excellent representation of actual human upper respiratory tract tissue, both in structure and in function4.
For this method, the EpiAirway tissues are weaned off of anti-microbial and anti-fungal compounds for 2 days prior to delivery, and all procedures are performed under antibiotic-free conditions. This necessitates special considerations, since both bacteria and primary human tissues are used in the same biosafety cabinet, and are co-cultured for extended periods.
Primary human respiratory tissue; Haemophilus influenzae; long-term co-culture; air-liquid interface; EpiAirway; NTHi
Chronic airway disorders, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and asthma, are associated with persistent pulmonary inflammation and goblet cell metaplasia and contribute to significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. While the molecular pathogenesis of these disorders is actively studied, little is known regarding the transcriptional control of goblet cell differentiation and mucus hyperproduction. Herein, we demonstrated that pulmonary allergen sensitization induces expression of FOXM1 transcription factor in airway epithelial and inflammatory cells. Conditional deletion of the Foxm1 gene from either airway epithelium or myeloid inflammatory cells decreased goblet cell metaplasia, reduced lung inflammation, and decreased airway resistance in response to house dust mite allergen (HDM). FOXM1 induced goblet cell metaplasia and Muc5AC expression through the transcriptional activation of Spdef. FOXM1 deletion reduced expression of CCL11, CCL24, and the chemokine receptors CCR2 and CX3CR1, resulting in decreased recruitment of eosinophils and macrophages to the lung. Deletion of FOXM1 from dendritic cells impaired the uptake of HDM antigens and decreased cell surface expression of major histocompatibility complex II (MHC II) and costimulatory molecule CD86, decreasing production of Th2 cytokines by activated T cells. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of FOXM1 by ARF peptide prevented HDM-mediated pulmonary responses. FOXM1 regulates genes critical for allergen-induced lung inflammation and goblet cell metaplasia.
Mucus secretions have played a central role in the evolution of multicellular organisms, enabling adaptation to widely differing environments. In vertebrates, mucus covers and protects the epithelial cells in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, visual, and auditory systems, amphibian's epidermis, and the gills in fishes. Deregulation of mucus production and/or composition has important consequences for human health. For example, mucus obstruction of small airways is observed in chronic airway diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and cystic fibrosis. The major protein component in the mucus is a family of large, disulfide-bonded glycoproteins known as gel-forming mucins. These proteins are accumulated in large, regulated secretory granules (the mucin granules) that occupy most of the apical cytoplasm of specialized cells known as mucous/goblet cells. Since mucin oligomers have contour dimensions larger than the mucin granule average diameter, the question arises how these highly hydrophilic macromolecules are organized within these organelles. I review here the intraluminal organization of the mucin granule in view of our knowledge on the structure, biosynthesis, and biophysical properties of gel-forming mucins, and novel imaging studies in living mucous/goblet cells. The emerging concept is that the mucin granule lumen comprises a partially condensed matrix meshwork embedded in a fluid phase where proteins slowly diffuse.
granule matrix; mucin granules; mucins; secretory granules; secretion