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1.  Glucocorticoid Receptor Interacting Protein-1 Restores Glucocorticoid Responsiveness in Steroid-Resistant Airway Structural Cells 
Glucocorticoid (GC) insensitivity represents a profound challenge in managing patients with asthma. The mutual inhibition of transcriptional activity between GC receptor (GR) and other regulators is one of the mechanisms contributing to GC resistance in asthma. We recently reported that interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1 is a novel transcription factor that promotes GC insensitivity in human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells by interfering with GR signaling (Tliba et al., Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 2008;38:463–472). Here, we sought to determine whether the inhibition of GR function by IRF-1 involves its interaction with the transcriptional co-regulator GR-interacting protein 1 (GRIP-1), a known GR transcriptional co-activator. We here found that siRNA-mediated GRIP-1 depletion attenuated IRF-1–dependent transcription of the luciferase reporter construct and the mRNA expression of an IRF-1–dependent gene, CD38. In parallel experiments, GRIP-1 silencing significantly reduced GR-mediated transactivation activities. Co-immunoprecipitation and GST pull-down assays showed that GRIP-1, through its repression domain, physically interacts with IRF-1 identifying GRIP-1 as a bona fide transcriptional co-activator for IRF-1. Interestingly, the previously reported inhibition of GR-mediated transactivation activities by either TNF-α and IFN-γ treatment or IRF-1 overexpression was fully reversed by increasing cellular levels of GRIP-1. Together, these data suggest that the cellular accumulation of IRF-1 may represent a potential molecular mechanism mediating altered cellular response to GC through the depletion of GRIP-1 from the GR transcriptional regulatory complexes.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2009-0239RC
PMCID: PMC2809222  PMID: 19805480
glucocorticoid; cytokine; airway smooth muscle; IRF-1; GRIP-1
2.  Expression and activation of the oxytocin receptor in airway smooth muscle cells: Regulation by TNFα and IL-13 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):104.
Background
During pregnancy asthma may remain stable, improve or worsen. The factors underlying the deleterious effect of pregnancy on asthma remain unknown. Oxytocin is a neurohypophyseal protein that regulates a number of central and peripheral responses such as uterine contractions and milk ejection. Additional evidence suggests that oxytocin regulates inflammatory processes in other tissues given the ubiquitous expression of the oxytocin receptor. The purpose of this study was to define the role of oxytocin in modulating human airway smooth muscle (HASMCs) function in the presence and absence of IL-13 and TNFα, cytokines known to be important in asthma.
Method
Expression of oxytocin receptor in cultured HASMCs was performed by real time PCR and flow cytomery assays. Responses to oxytocin was assessed by fluorimetry to detect calcium signals while isolated tracheal rings and precision cut lung slices (PCLS) were used to measure contractile responses. Finally, ELISA was used to compare oxytocin levels in the bronchoalveloar lavage (BAL) samples from healthy subjects and those with asthma.
Results
PCR analysis demonstrates that OXTR is expressed in HASMCs under basal conditions and that both interleukin (IL)-13 and tumor necrosis factor (TNFα) stimulate a time-dependent increase in OXTR expression at 6 and 18 hr. Additionally, oxytocin increases cytosolic calcium levels in fura-2-loaded HASMCs that were enhanced in cells treated for 24 hr with IL-13. Interestingly, TNFα had little effect on oxytocin-induced calcium response despite increasing receptor expression. Using isolated murine tracheal rings and PCLS, oxytocin also promoted force generation and airway narrowing. Further, oxytocin levels are detectable in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid derived from healthy subjects as well as from those with asthma.
Conclusion
Taken together, we show that cytokines modulate the expression of functional oxytocin receptors in HASMCs suggesting a potential role for inflammation-induced changes in oxytocin receptor signaling in the regulation of airway hyper-responsiveness in asthma.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-11-104
PMCID: PMC2922094  PMID: 20670427
3.  Cytokines Induce an Early Steroid Resistance in Airway Smooth Muscle Cells 
We have previously shown that long-term treatment of airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells with a combination of TNF-α and IFN-γ impaired steroid anti-inflammatory action through the up-regulation of glucocorticoid receptor beta isoform (GRβ) (Mol Pharmacol 2006;69:588–596). We here found that steroid actions could also be suppressed by short-term exposure of ASM cells to TNF-α and IFN-γ (6 h) as shown by the abrogated glucocorticoid responsive element (GRE)-dependent gene transcription; surprisingly, neither GRα nuclear translocation nor GRβ expression was affected by cytokine mixture. The earlier induction of CD38, a molecule recently involved in asthma, seen with TNF-α and IFN-γ combination but not with cytokine alone, was also completely insensitive to steroid pretreatment. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation (IP) and siRNA strategies revealed not only increased binding of interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1) transcription factor to CD38 promoter, but also its implication in regulating CD38 gene transcription. Interestingly, the capacity of fluticasone to completely inhibit TNF-α–induced IRF-1 expression, IRF-1 DNA binding, and transactivation activities was completely lost in cells exposed to TNF-α and IFN-γ in combination. This early steroid dysfunction seen with cytokine combination could be reproduced by enhancing IRF-1 cellular levels using constitutively active IRF-1, which dose-dependently inhibited GRE-dependent gene transcription. Consistently, reducing IRF-1 cellular levels using siRNA approach significantly restored steroid transactivation activities. Collectively, our findings demonstrate for the first time that IRF-1 is a novel alternative GRβ-independent mechanism mediating steroid dysfunction induced by pro-asthmatic cytokines, in part via the suppression of GRα activities.
doi:10.1165/rcmb.2007-0226OC
PMCID: PMC2274949  PMID: 17947510
transcription factor; glucocorticoid; inflammation; asthma; mesenchymal cells
4.  Essential role of IFNβ and CD38 in TNFα-induced airway smooth muscle hyper-responsiveness 
Immunobiology  2008;213(6):499-509.
We recently identified autocrine interferon (IFN)β as a novel mechanism mediating tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α-induced expression of inflammatory genes in airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells, including CD38, known to regulate calcium signaling. Here, we investigated the putative involvement of IFNβ in regulating TNFα-induced airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), a defining feature of asthma. Using our pharmacodynamic model to assess ex vivo AHR isolated murine tracheal rings, we found that TNFα-induced enhanced contractile responses to carbachol and bradykinin was abrogated by neutralizing anti-IFNβ antibody or in tracheal rings deficient in CD38. In cultured human ASM cells, where CD38 has been involved in TNFα-induced enhanced calcium signals to carbachol and bradykinin, we found that neutralizing anti-IFNβ prevented TNFα enhancing action only on carbachol responses but not to that induced by bradykinin. In a well-characterized model of allergic asthma (mice sensitized and challenged with Aspergillus fumigatus (Af)), we found heightened expression of both IFNβ and CD38 in the airways. Furthermore, allergen-associated AHR to methacholine, assessed by lung resistance and dynamic compliance, was completely suppressed in CD38-deficient mice, despite the preservation of airway inflammation. These data provide the first evidence that ASM-derived IFNβ and CD38 may play a significant role in the development of TNFα-associated AHR.
doi:10.1016/j.imbio.2007.12.002
PMCID: PMC2587232  PMID: 18514752
Allergic asthma; Cytokine; Airway smooth muscle; Inflammation; Calcium signaling; Hypercontractility

Results 1-4 (4)