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1.  Chitinase 3-like 1 synergistically activates IL6-mediated STAT3 phosphorylation in intestinal epithelial cells in murine models of infectious colitis 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2014;20(5):835-846.
Chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) is an inducible molecule on intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) during the development inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
To investigate the role of CHI3L1 in bacterial infectious colitis, we orally inoculated pathogenic Salmonella typhimurium and potentially pathogenic adherent-invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) LF82 virulent strain, into C57Bl/6 wild-type (WT) or CHI3L1 knockout (KO) mice.
Both S. typhimurium and AIEC LF82 were found to efficiently induce severe intestinal inflammation in WT but not CHI3L1 KO mice. These bacteria-infected CHI3L1 KO mice exhibit decreased cellular infiltration, bacterial translocation and productions of IL-6 and IL-22, as compared to those of WT mice. More importantly, CHI3L1 KO mice displayed aberrant STAT3 activation after bacterial infections. Co-stimulation of CHI3L1 and IL-6, but not IL-22, synergistically activates STAT3 signaling pathway in IECs in an NF-κB/MAPK dependent manner.
CHI3L1 promotes the onset of selected gram-negative bacterial infectious colitis through IL-6/STAT3 pathway.
PMCID: PMC4012618  PMID: 24694795
chitinase; cytokine; STAT3; intestinal epithelial cells
2.  Role of Breast Regression Protein–39 in the Pathogenesis of Cigarette Smoke–Induced Inflammation and Emphysema 
The exaggerated expression of chitinase-like protein YKL-40, the human homologue of breast regression protein–39 (BRP-39), was reported in a number of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the in vivo roles of YKL-40 in normal physiology or in the pathogenesis of specific diseases such as COPD remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that BRP-39/YKL-40 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke (CS)–induced emphysema. To test this hypothesis, 10-week-old wild-type and BRP-39 null mutant mice (BRP-39−/−) were exposed to room air (RA) and CS for up to 10 months. The expression of BRP-39 was significantly induced in macrophages, airway epithelial cells, and alveolar Type II cells in the lungs of CS-exposed mice compared with RA-exposed mice, at least in part via an IL-18 signaling–dependent pathway. The null mutation of BRP-39 significantly reduced CS-induced bronchoalveolar lavage and tissue inflammation. However, CS-induced epithelial cell apoptosis and alveolar destruction were further enhanced in the absence of BRP-39. Consistent with these findings in mice, the tissue expression of YKL-40 was significantly increased in the lungs of current smokers compared with the lungs of ex-smokers or nonsmokers. In addition, serum concentrations of YKL-40 were significantly higher in smokers with COPD than in nonsmokers or smokers without COPD. These studies demonstrate a novel regulatory role of BRP-39/YKL-40 in CS-induced inflammation and emphysematous destruction. These studies also underscore that maintaining physiologic concentrations of YKL-40 in the lung is therapeutically important in preventing excessive inflammatory responses or emphysematous alveolar destruction.
PMCID: PMC3135840  PMID: 20656949
YKL-40/BRP-39; COPD; emphysema; cigarette smoke
3.  Endogenous IL-11 Signaling Is Essential in Th2- and IL-13–Induced Inflammation and Mucus Production 
IL-11 and IL-11 receptor (R)α are induced by Th2 cytokines. However, the role(s) of endogenous IL-11 in antigen-induced Th2 inflammation has not been fully defined. We hypothesized that IL-11, signaling via IL-11Rα, plays an important role in aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation and mucus metaplasia. To test this hypothesis, we compared the responses induced by the aeroallergen ovalbumin (OVA) in wild-type (WT) and IL-11Rα–null mutant mice. We also generated and defined the effects of an antagonistic IL-11 mutein on pulmonary Th2 responses. Increased levels of IgE, eosinophilic tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) inflammation, IL-13 production, and increased mucus production and secretion were noted in OVA-sensitized and -challenged WT mice. These responses were at least partially IL-11 dependent because each was decreased in mice with null mutations of IL-11Rα. Importantly, the administration of the IL-11 mutein to OVA-sensitized mice before aerosol antigen challenge also caused a significant decrease in OVA-induced inflammation, mucus responses, and IL-13 production. Intraperitoneal administration of the mutein to lung-specific IL-13–overexpressing transgenic mice also reduced BAL inflammation and airway mucus elaboration. These studies demonstrate that endogenous IL-11R signaling plays an important role in antigen-induced sensitization, eosinophilic inflammation, and airway mucus production. They also demonstrate that Th2 and IL-13 responses can be regulated by interventions that manipulate IL-11 signaling in the murine lung.
PMCID: PMC2586049  PMID: 18617680
IL-11; mutein; airway inflammation; mucus; IL-13
4.  P21 Regulates TGF-β1–Induced Pulmonary Responses via a TNF-α–Signaling Pathway 
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is an essential regulatory cytokine that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diverse facets of the injury and repair responses in the lung. The types of responses that it elicits can be appreciated in studies from our laboratory that demonstrated that the transgenic (Tg) overexpression of TGF-β1 in the murine lung causes epithelial apoptosis followed by fibrosis, inflammation, and parenchymal destruction. Because a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21, is a key regulator of apoptosis, we hypothesized that p21 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of TGF-β1–induced tissue responses. To test this hypothesis we evaluated the effect of TGF-β1 on the expression of p21 in the murine lung. We also characterized the effects of transgenic TGF-β1 in mice with wild-type and null mutant p21 loci. These studies demonstrate that TGF-β1 is a potent stimulator of p21 expression in the epithelial cells and macrophages in the murine lung. They also demonstrate that TGF-β1–induced lung inflammation, fibrosis, myofibroblast accumulation, and alveolar destruction are augmented in the absence of p21, and that these alterations are associated with exaggerated levels of apoptosis and caspase-3 activation. Finally, our studies further demonstrated that TGF-β1 induces p21 via a TNF-α–signaling pathway and that p21 is a negative modulator of TGF-β1–induced TNF-α expression. Collectively, our studies demonstrate that p21 regulates TGF-β1–induced apoptosis, inflammation, fibrosis, and alveolar remodeling by interacting with TNF-α–signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2258454  PMID: 17932374
TGF-β; p21; apoptosis; fibrosis; emphysema
5.  Role of Chitinase 3–Like-1 in Interleukin-18–Induced Pulmonary Type 1, Type 2, and Type 17 Inflammation; Alveolar Destruction; and Airway Fibrosis in the Murine Lung 
Chitinase 3–like 1 (Chi3l1), which is also called YKL-40 in humans and BRP-39 in mice, is the prototypic chitinase-like protein. Recent studies have highlighted its impressive ability to regulate the nature of tissue inflammation and the magnitude of tissue injury and fibroproliferative repair. This can be appreciated in studies that highlight its induction after cigarette smoke exposure, during which it inhibits alveolar destruction and the genesis of pulmonary emphysema. IL-18 is also known to be induced and activated by cigarette smoke, and, in murine models, the IL-18 pathway has been shown to be necessary and sufficient to generate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease–like inflammation, fibrosis, and tissue destruction. However, the relationship between Chi3l1 and IL-18 has not been defined. To address this issue we characterized the expression of Chi3l1/BRP-39 in control and lung-targeted IL-18 transgenic mice. We also characterized the effects of transgenic IL-18 in mice with wild-type and null Chi3l1 loci. The former studies demonstrated that IL-18 is a potent stimulator of Chi3l1/BRP-39 and that this stimulation is mediated via IFN-γ–, IL-13–, and IL-17A–dependent mechanisms. The latter studies demonstrated that, in the absence of Chi3l1/BRP-39, IL-18 induced type 2 and type 17 inflammation and fibrotic airway remodeling were significantly ameliorated, whereas type 1 inflammation, emphysematous alveolar destruction, and the expression of cytotoxic T lymphocyte perforin, granzyme, and retinoic acid early transcript 1 expression were enhanced. These studies demonstrate that IL-18 is a potent stimulator of Chi3l1 and that Chi3l1 is an important mediator of IL-18–induced inflammatory, fibrotic, alveolar remodeling, and cytotoxic responses.
PMCID: PMC4742933  PMID: 25955511
Chi3l1; IL-18; airway fibrosis; alveolar remodeling; COPD
6.  Regulation of Retinoic Acid Receptor Beta by Interleukin-15 in the Lung during Cigarette Smoking and Influenza Virus Infection 
Virus-induced exacerbations often lead to further impairment of lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. IL-15 is critical in antiviral immune responses. Retinoic acid (RA) signaling plays an important role in tissue maintenance and repair, particularly in the lung. We studied RA signaling and its relation to IL-15 in the lung during cigarette smoke (CS) exposure and influenza virus infection. In vivo studies show that RA signaling is diminished by long-term CS exposure or influenza virus infection alone, which is further attenuated during infection after CS exposure. RA receptor β (RARβ) is specifically decreased in the lung of IL-15 transgenic (overexpression; IL-15Tg) mice, and a greater reduction in RARβ is found in these mice compared with wild-type (WT) mice after infection. RARβ is increased in IL-15 knockout (IL-15KO) mice compared with WT mice after infection, and the additive effect of CS and virus on RARβ down-regulation is diminished in IL-15KO mice. IL-15 receptor α (IL-15Rα) is increased and RARβ is significantly decreased in lung interstitial macrophages from IL-15Tg mice compared with WT mice. In vitro studies show that IL-15 down-regulates RARβ in macrophages via IL-15Rα signaling during influenza virus infection. These studies suggest that RA signaling is significantly diminished in the lung by CS exposure and influenza virus infection. IL-15 specifically down-regulates RARβ expression, and RARβ may play a protective role in lung injury caused by CS exposure and viral infections.
PMCID: PMC4742936  PMID: 25923039
IL-15; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; retinoic acid receptor; cigarette smoke; influenza
8.  IL-13Rα2 uses TMEM219 in chitinase 3-like-1-induced signalling and effector responses 
Nature Communications  2016;7:12752.
Recent studies demonstrated that chitinase 3-like-1 (Chi3l1) binds to and signals via IL-13Rα2. However, the mechanism that IL-13Rα2 uses to mediate the effects of Chi3l1 has not been defined. Here, we demonstrate that the membrane protein, TMEM219, is a binding partner of IL-13Rα2 using yeast two-hybrid, co-immunoprecipitation, co-localization and bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays. Furthermore, fluorescence anisotropy nanodisc assays revealed a direct physical interaction between TMEM219 and IL-13Rα2-Chi3l1 complexes. Null mutations or siRNA silencing of TMEM219 or IL-13Rα2 similarly decreased Chi3l1-stimulated epithelial cell HB-EGF production and macrophage MAPK/Erk and PKB/Akt activation. Null mutations of TMEM219 or IL-13Rα2 also phenocopied one another as regards the ability of Chi3l1 to inhibit oxidant-induced apoptosis and lung injury, promote melanoma metastasis and stimulate TGF-β1. TMEM219 also contributed to the decoy function of IL-13Rα2. These studies demonstrate that TMEM219 plays a critical role in Chi3l1-induced IL-13Rα2 mediated signalling and tissue responses.
Chitinase 3-like 1 regulates cell death, inflammation and tissue remodelling via IL-13receptorα2. Here, the authors show that TMEM219 is a IL-13Rα2 co-receptor and modulates oxidant-induced apoptosis and lung injury, melanoma metastasis and TGF-β1 signalling, downstream of Chi3l1-IL-13Rα2.
PMCID: PMC5027616  PMID: 27629921
9.  RIG-like Helicase Regulation of Chitinase 3-like 1 Axis and Pulmonary Metastasis 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:26299.
Chi3l1 is induced by a variety of cancers where it portends a poor prognosis and plays a key role in the generation of metastasis. However, the mechanisms that Chi3l1 uses to mediate these responses and the pathways that control Chi3l1-induced tumor responses are poorly understood. We characterized the mechanisms that Chi3l1 uses to foster tumor progression and the ability of the RIG-like helicase (RLH) innate immune response to control Chi3l1 elaboration and pulmonary metastasis. Here we demonstrate that RLH activation inhibits tumor induction of Chi3l1 and the expression of receptor IL-13Rα2 and pulmonary metastasis while restoring NK cell accumulation and activation, augmenting the expression of IFN-α/β, chemerin and its receptor ChemR23, p-cofilin, LIMK2 and PTEN and inhibiting BRAF and NLRX1 in a MAVS-dependent manner. These studies demonstrate that Chi3l1 is a multifaceted immune stimulator of tumor progression and metastasis whose elaboration and tissue effects are abrogated by RLH innate immune responses.
PMCID: PMC4873814  PMID: 27198666
10.  Role of Chitinase 3-like-1 and Semaphorin 7a in Pulmonary Melanoma Metastasis 
Cancer research  2014;75(3):487-496.
The prototypic chitinase-like protein Chi3l1 is induced in cancers and portends a poor prognosis, but whether it contributes to cancer progression is unknown. To address this gap in knowledge we investigated the production of Chi3l1 in melanoma lung metastases. We found that Chi3l1 was induced during pulmonary melanoma metastasis and that this induction was regulated by the semaphorin Sema7a, interacting in stimulatory or inhibitory ways with its β1 integrin or Plexin C1 receptors, respectively. In mouse strains with genetic deletions of Chi3l1 or Sema7a, there was a significant reduction in pulmonary metastasis. Notably, antiserum raised against Chi3l1 or Sema7a phenocopied the reduction produced by genetic deletions. Melanoma lung metastasis was also decreased in the absence of IL-13Rα2, a recently identified receptor for Chi3l1, consistent with a key role for Chi3l1 in melanoma spread. We confirmed roles for Sema7a and Chi3l1 in pulmonary metastasis of EMT6 breast cancer cells. Taken together, our studies establish a novel pathway through which Sem7a and its receptors regulate Chi3l1, revealing a host axis involving IL-13Rα2 that plays a critical role in generating a pulmonary microenvironment that is critical to license metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4321965  PMID: 25511377
Chi3l1; IL-13Rα2; melanoma; Lung metastasis; plexin C1; β1 integrin
11.  Chitinase 3–like–1 and its receptors in Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome–associated lung disease 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2015;125(8):3178-3192.
Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome (HPS) comprises a group of inherited disorders caused by mutations that alter the function of lysosome-related organelles. Pulmonary fibrosis is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with subtypes HPS-1 and HPS-4, which both result from defects in biogenesis of lysosome-related organelle complex 3 (BLOC-3). The prototypic chitinase-like protein chitinase 3–like–1 (CHI3L1) plays a protective role in the lung by ameliorating cell death and stimulating fibroproliferative repair. Here, we demonstrated that circulating CHI3L1 levels are higher in HPS patients with pulmonary fibrosis compared with those who remain fibrosis free, and that these levels associate with disease severity. Using murine HPS models, we also determined that these animals have a defect in the ability of CHI3L1 to inhibit epithelial apoptosis but exhibit exaggerated CHI3L1-driven fibroproliferation, which together promote HPS fibrosis. These divergent responses resulted from differences in the trafficking and effector functions of two CHI3L1 receptors. Specifically, the enhanced sensitivity to apoptosis was due to abnormal localization of IL-13Rα2 as a consequence of dysfunctional BLOC-3–dependent membrane trafficking. In contrast, the fibrosis was due to interactions between CHI3L1 and the receptor CRTH2, which trafficked normally in BLOC-3 mutant HPS. These data demonstrate that CHI3L1-dependent pathways exacerbate pulmonary fibrosis and suggest CHI3L1 as a potential biomarker for pulmonary fibrosis progression and severity in HPS.
PMCID: PMC4563747  PMID: 26121745
12.  Chitinase 3-like 1 induces survival and proliferation of intestinal epithelial cells during chronic inflammation and colitis-associated cancer by regulating S100A9 
Oncotarget  2015;6(34):36535-36550.
Many host-factors are inducibly expressed during the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), each having their unique properties, such as immune activation, bacterial clearance, and tissue repair/remodeling. Dysregulation/imbalance of these factors may have pathogenic effects that can contribute to colitis-associated cancer (CAC). Previous reports showed that IBD patients inducibly express colonic chitinase 3-like 1 (CHI3L1) that is further upregulated during CAC development. However, little is known about the direct pathogenic involvement of CHI3L1 in vivo. Here we demonstrate that CHI3L1 (aka Brp39) knockout (KO) mice treated with azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) developed severe colitis but lesser incidence of CAC as compared to that in wild-type (WT) mice. Highest CHI3L1 expression was found during the chronic phase of colitis, rather than the acute phase, and is essential to promote intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) proliferation in vivo. This CHI3L1-mediated cell proliferation/survival involves partial downregulation of the pro-apoptotic S100A9 protein that is highly expressed during the acute phase of colitis, by binding to the S100A9 receptor, RAGE (Receptor for Advanced Glycation End products). This interaction disrupts the S100A9-associated expression positive feedback loop during early immune activation, creating a CHI3L1hi S100A9low colonic environment, especially in the later phase of colitis, which promotes cell proliferation/survival of both normal IECs and tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC4742194  PMID: 26431492
mammalian chitinase; colitis-associated cancer; bone marrow chimeras; RAGE; intestinal epithelial cells
13.  Suppression of NLRX1 in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2015;125(6):2458-2462.
Cigarette smoke (CS) and viruses promote the inflammation and remodeling associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The MAVS/RIG-I–like helicase (MAVS/RLH) pathway and inflammasome-dependent innate immune pathways are important mediators of these responses. At baseline, the MAVS/RLH pathway is suppressed, and this inhibition must be reversed to engender tissue effects; however, the mechanisms that mediate activation and repression of the pathway have not been defined. In addition, the regulation and contribution of MAVS/RLH signaling in CS-induced inflammation and remodeling responses and in the development of human COPD remain unaddressed. Here, we demonstrate that expression of NLRX1, which inhibits the MAVS/RLH pathway and regulates other innate immune responses, was markedly decreased in 3 independent cohorts of COPD patients. NLRX1 suppression correlated directly with disease severity and inversely with pulmonary function, quality of life, and prognosis. In murine models, CS inhibited NLRX1, and CS-induced inflammation, alveolar destruction, protease induction, structural cell apoptosis, and inflammasome activation were augmented in NLRX1-deficient animals. Conversely, MAVS deficiency abrogated this CS-induced inflammation and remodeling. Restoration of NLRX1 in CS-exposed animals ameliorated alveolar destruction. These data support a model in which CS-dependent NLRX1 inhibition facilitates MAVS/RHL activation and subsequent inflammation, remodeling, protease, cell death, and inflammasome responses.
PMCID: PMC4497738  PMID: 25938787
Inflammation; Pulmonology
14.  Epithelial Cell Mitochondrial Dysfunction and PINK1 Are Induced by Transforming Growth Factor- Beta1 in Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0121246.
Epithelial cell death is a major contributor to fibrogenesis in the lung. In this study, we sought to determine the function of mitochondria and their clearance (mitophagy) in alveolar epithelial cell death and fibrosis.
We studied markers of mitochondrial injury and the mitophagy marker, PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1), in IPF lung tissues by Western blotting, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and immunofluorescence. In vitro experiments were carried out in lung epithelial cells stimulated with transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). Changes in cell function were measured by Western blotting, flow cytometry and immunofluorescence. In vivo experiments were performed using the murine bleomycin model of lung fibrosis.
Evaluation of IPF lung tissue demonstrated increased PINK1 expression by Western blotting and immunofluorescence and increased numbers of damaged mitochondria by TEM. In lung epithelial cells, TGF-β1 induced mitochondrial depolarization, mitochondrial ROS, and PINK1 expression; all were abrogated by mitochondrial ROS scavenging. Finally, Pink1-/- mice were more susceptible than control mice to bleomycin induced lung fibrosis.
TGF-β1 induces lung epithelial cell mitochondrial ROS and depolarization and stabilizes the key mitophagy initiating protein, PINK1. PINK1 ameliorates epithelial cell death and may be necessary to limit fibrogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4364993  PMID: 25785991
15.  Chitinase 3–like 1 Suppresses Injury and Promotes Fibroproliferative Responses in Mammalian Lung Fibrosis 
Science translational medicine  2014;6(240):240ra76.
Epithelial injury, alternative macrophage accumulation, and fibroproliferation coexist in the lungs of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Chitinase 3–like 1 (CHI3L1) is a prototypic chitinase-like protein that has been retained over species and evolutionary time. However, the regulation of CHI3L1 in IPF and its ability to regulate injury and/or fibroproliferative repair have not been fully defined. We demonstrated that CHI3L1 levels were elevated in patients with IPF. High levels of CHI3L1 are associated with progression—as defined by lung transplantation or death—and with scavenger receptor–expressing circulating monocytes in an ambulatory IPF population. In preterminal acute exacerbations of IPF, CHI3L1 levels were reduced and associated with increased levels of apoptosis. We also demonstrated that in bleomycin-treated mice, CHI3L1 expression was acutely and transiently decreased during the injury phase and returned toward and eventually exceeded baseline levels during the fibrotic phase. In this model, CHI3L1 played a protective role in injury by ameliorating inflammation and cell death, and a profibrotic role in the repair phase by augmenting alternative macrophage activation, fibroblast proliferation, and matrix deposition. Using three-dimensional culture system of a human fibroblast cell line, we found that CHI3L1 is sufficient to induce low grade myofibroblast transformation. In combination, these studies demonstrate that CHI3L1 is stimulated in IPF, where it represents an attempt to diminish injury and induce repair. They also demonstrate that high levels of CHI3L1 are associated with disease progression in ambulatory patients and that a failure of the CHI3L1 antiapoptotic response might contribute to preterminal disease exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC4340473  PMID: 24920662
16.  Chitinase 1 Is a Biomarker for and Therapeutic Target in Scleroderma-Associated Interstitial Lung Disease That Augments TGF-β1 Signaling 
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) with pulmonary fibrosis is an important manifestation in systemic sclerosis (SSc, scleroderma) where it portends a poor prognosis. However, biomarkers that predict the development and or severity of SSc-ILD have not been validated, and the pathogenetic mechanisms that engender this pulmonary response are poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate in two different patient cohorts that the levels of chitotriosidase (Chit1) bioactivity and protein are significantly increased in the circulation and lungs of SSc patients compared with demographically matched controls. We also demonstrate that, compared with patients without lung involvement, patients with ILD show high levels of circulating Chit1 activity that correlate with disease severity. Murine modeling shows that in comparison with wild-type mice, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis was significantly reduced in Chit1−/− mice and significantly enhanced in lungs from Chit1 overexpressing transgenic animals. In vitro studies also demonstrated that Chit1 interacts with TGF-β1 to augment fibroblast TGF-β receptors 1 and 2 expression and TGF-β–induced Smad and MAPK/ERK activation. These studies indicate that Chit1 is potential biomarker for ILD in SSc and a therapeutic target in SSc-associated lung fibrosis and demonstrate that Chit1 augments TGF-β1 effects by increasing receptor expression and canonical and noncanonical TGF-β1 signaling.
PMCID: PMC4336775  PMID: 22826322
17.  Role of RNase L in Viral PAMP/Influenza Virus and Cigarette Smoke-induced Inflammation and Remodeling 
Interactions between cigarette smoke (CS) exposure and viral infection play an important role(s) in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a variety of other disorders. A variety of lines of evidence suggest that this interaction induces exaggerated inflammatory, cytokine and tissue remodeling responses. We hypothesized that the 2′-5′OAS/RNase L system, an innate immune antiviral pathway, plays an important role in the pathogenesis of these exaggerated responses. To test this hypothesis we characterize the activation of 2′-5′ oligoadenylate synthase (OAS) in lungs from mice exposed to CS and viral PAMPs/live virus, alone and in combination. We also evaluated the inflammatory and remodeling responses induced by CS and virus/viral PAMPs in lungs from RNase L null and wild type mice. These studies demonstrate that CS and viral PAMPs/live virus interact in a synergistic manner to stimulate the production of select OAS moieties. They also demonstrate that RNase L plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of the exaggerated inflammatory, fibrotic, emphysematous, apoptotic, TGF-β1 and type I IFN responses induced by CS plus virus/viral PAMP in combination. These studies demonstrate that CS is an important regulator of antiviral innate immunity, highlight novel roles of RNase L in CS plus virus induced inflammation, tissue remodeling, apoptosis and cytokine elaboration and highlight pathways that may be operative in COPD and mechanistically-related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3750064  PMID: 23913960
18.  Chitinase 3-like 1 Regulates Cellular and Tissue Responses via IL-13 Receptor α2 
Cell reports  2013;4(4):830-841.
Members of the 18 glycosyl hydrolase (GH 18) gene family have been conserved over species and time and are dysregulated in inflammatory, infectious, remodeling, and neoplastic disorders. This is particularly striking for the prototypic chitinase-like protein chitinase 3-like 1 (Chi3l1), which plays a critical role in antipathogen responses where it augments bacterial killing while stimulating disease tolerance by controlling cell death, inflammation, and remodeling. However, receptors that mediate the effects of GH 18 moieties have not been defined. Here, we demonstrate that Chi3l1 binds to interleukin-13 receptor α2 (IL-13Rα2) and that Chi3l1, IL-13Rα2, and IL-13 are in a multimeric complex. We also demonstrate that Chi3l1 activates macrophage mitogen-activated protein kinase, protein kinase B/AKT, and Wnt/β-catenin signaling and regulates oxidant injury, apoptosis, pyroptosis, inflammasome activation, antibacterial responses, melanoma metastasis, and TGF-β1 production via IL-13Rα2-dependent mechanisms. Thus, IL-13Rα2 is a GH 18 receptor that plays a critical role in Chi3l1 effector responses.
PMCID: PMC3988532  PMID: 23972995
19.  VEGF controls lung Th2 inflammation via the miR-1–Mpl (myeloproliferative leukemia virus oncogene)–P-selectin axis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(10):1993-2010.
VEGF dampens the expression of microRNA-1, which drives inflammation in part via increasing the expression of Mpl.
Asthma, the prototypic Th2-mediated inflammatory disorder of the lung, is an emergent disease worldwide. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical regulator of pulmonary Th2 inflammation, but the underlying mechanism and the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in this process have not been defined. Here we show that lung-specific overexpression of VEGF decreases miR-1 expression in the lung, most prominently in the endothelium, and a similar down-regulation occurs in lung endothelium in Th2 inflammation models. Intranasal delivery of miR-1 inhibited inflammatory responses to ovalbumin, house dust mite, and IL-13 overexpression. Blocking VEGF inhibited Th2-mediated lung inflammation, and this was restored by antagonizing miR-1. Using mRNA arrays, Argonaute pull-down assays, luciferase expression assays, and mutational analysis, we identified Mpl as a direct target of miR-1 and showed that VEGF controls the expression of endothelial Mpl during Th2 inflammation via the regulation of miR-1. In vivo knockdown of Mpl inhibited Th2 inflammation and indirectly inhibited the expression of P-selectin in lung endothelium. These experiments define a novel VEGF–miR-1–Mpl–P-selectin effector pathway in lung Th2 inflammation and herald the utility of miR-1 and Mpl as potential therapeutic targets for asthma.
PMCID: PMC3782056  PMID: 24043765
20.  Role of Chitin and Chitinase/Chitinase-Like Proteins in Inflammation, Tissue Remodeling, and Injury 
Annual review of physiology  2011;73:10.1146/annurev-physiol-012110-142250.
The 18 glycosyl hydrolase family of chitinases is an ancient gene family that is widely expressed from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. In mammals, despite the absence of endogenous chitin, a number of chitinases and chitinase-like proteins (C/CLPs) have been identified. However, their roles have only recently begun to be elucidated. Acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase) inhibits chitin-induced innate inflammation; augments chitin-free, allergen-induced Th2 inflammation; and mediates effector functions of IL-13. The CLPs BRP-39/YKL-40 (also termed chitinase 3-like 1) inhibit oxidant-induced lung injury, augments adaptive Th2 immunity, regulates apoptosis, stimulates alternative macrophage activation, and contributes to fibrosis and wound healing. In accord with these findings, levels of YKL-40 in the lung and serum are increased in asthma and other inflammatory and remodeling disorders and often correlate with disease severity. Our understanding of the roles of C/CLPs in inflammation, tissue remodeling, and tissue injury in health and disease is reviewed below.
PMCID: PMC3864643  PMID: 21054166
asthma; fibrosis; BRP-39/YKL-40; AMCase; chitotriosidase
21.  Chitinase 3-like-1 Promotes Streptococcus pneumoniae Killing and Augments Host Tolerance to Lung Antibacterial Responses 
Cell host & microbe  2012;12(1):34-46.
Host antibacterial responses include mechanisms that kill bacteria, but also those that protect or tolerize the host to potentially damaging antibacterial effects. We determined that Chitinase 3-like-1 (Chi3l1), a conserved prototypic chitinase-like protein, is induced by Streptococcus pneumoniae and plays central roles in promoting bacterial clearance and mediating host tolerance. S. pneumoniae-infected Chi3l1 null mice exhibit exaggerated lung injury, inflammation and hemorrhage, more frequent bacterial dissemination, decreased bacterial clearance, and enhanced mortality compared to controls. Chi3l1 augments macrophage bacterial killing by inhibiting caspase-1-dependent macrophage pyroptosis and augments host tolerance by controlling inflammasome activation, ATP accumulation, expression of ATP receptor P2×7R, and production of thymic stromal lymphopoietin and type 1, type 2, and type 17 cytokines. These data demonstrate that Chi3l1 is induced during infection, where it promotes bacterial clearance while simultaneously augmenting host tolerance, and that these roles likely contributed to the retention of Chi3l1 over species and evolutionary time.
PMCID: PMC3613130  PMID: 22817986
22.  IL-18 Induces Emphysema and Airway and Vascular Remodeling via IFN-γ, IL-17A, and IL-13 
Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic inflammation, alveolar destruction, and airway and vascular remodeling. However, the mechanisms that lead to these diverse alterations have not been defined.
Objectives: We hypothesized that IL-18 plays a central role in the pathogenesis of these lesions.
Methods: We generated and characterized lung-specific, inducible IL-18 transgenic mice.
Measurements and Main Results: Here we demonstrate that the expression of IL-18 in the mature murine lung induces inflammation that is associated with the accumulation of CD4+, CD8+, CD19+, and NK1.1+ cells; emphysema; mucus metaplasia; airway fibrosis; vascular remodeling; and right ventricle cardiac hypertrophy. We also demonstrate that IL-18 induces type 1, type 2, and type 17 cytokines with IFN-γ–inhibiting macrophage, lymphocyte, and eosinophil accumulation while stimulating alveolar destruction and genes associated with cell cytotoxicity and IL-13 and IL-17A inducing mucus metaplasia, airway fibrosis, and vascular remodeling. We also highlight interactions between these responses with IL-18 inducing IL-13 via an IL-17A–dependent mechanism and the type 1 and type17/type 2 responses counterregulating each another.
Conclusions: These studies define the spectrum of inflammatory, parenchymal, airway, and vascular alterations that are induced by pulmonary IL-18; highlight the similarities between these responses and the lesions in COPD; and define the selective roles that type 1, type 2, and type 17 responses play in the generation of IL-18–induced pathologies.
PMCID: PMC3373071  PMID: 22383501
IL-18; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; airway fibrosis; mucus metaplasia; vascular remodeling
23.  Chitinase-like Proteins in Lung Injury, Repair, and Metastasis 
This report explains how our studies of asthma and Th2 inflammation led us to investigate the roles of chitinase-like proteins (CLPs) in lung injury and repair and puts forth an overall hypothesis that can explain the roles that these moieties play in biology and a hypothesis regarding the ways that dysregulated CLP expression may contribute to the pathogenesis of a variety of diseases. We test this hypothesis by assessing the contributions of the CLP breast regression protein (BRP)-39 in the pathogenesis of malignant melanoma metastasis to the lung.
PMCID: PMC3359113  PMID: 22550243
BRP-39/YKL-40; inflammation; injury; repair; metastasis
24.  Studies of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent stimulator of vascular angiogenesis, permeability, and remodeling that also plays important roles in wound healing and tissue cytoprotection. To begin to define the roles of VEGF in diseases like asthma and COPD, we characterized the effects of lung-targeted transgenic VEGF165 and defined the innate immune pathways that regulate VEGF tissue responses. The former studies demonstrated that VEGF plays an important role in Th2 inflammation because, in addition to stimulating angiogenesis and edema, VEGF induced eosinophilic inflammation, mucus metaplasia, subepithelial fibrosis, myocyte hyperplasia, dendritic cell activation, and airways hyperresponsiveness via IL-13–dependent and -independent mechanisms. VEGF was also produced at sites of aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation, and VEGF receptor blockade ameliorated adaptive Th2 inflammation and Th2 cytokine elaboration. The latter studies demonstrated that activation of the RIG-like helicase (RLH) innate immune pathway using viral pathogen–associated molecular patterns such as Poly(I:C) or viruses ameliorated VEGF-induced tissue responses. In accord with these findings, Poly(I:C)-induced RLH activation also abrogated aeroallergen-induced Th2 inflammation. When viewed in combination, these studies suggest that VEGF excess can contribute to the pathogenesis of Th2 inflammatory disorders such as asthma and that abrogation of VEGF signaling via RLH activation can contribute to the pathogenesis of viral disorders such as virus-induced COPD exacerbations. They also suggest that RLH activation may be a useful therapeutic strategy in asthma and related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3359071  PMID: 22052929
asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; virus; RIG-like helicase; mitochondrial antiviral signaling molecule
25.  RIG-like Helicase Innate Immunity Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Tissue Responses via a Type I IFN–dependent Mechanism 
Rationale: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulates vascular, inflammatory, remodeling, and cell death responses. It plays a critical role in normal pulmonary physiology, and VEGF excess and deficiency have been implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respectively. Although viruses are an important cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations and innate responses play an important role in these exacerbations, the effects of antiviral responses on VEGF homeostasis have not been evaluated.
Objectives: We hypothesized that antiviral innate immunity regulates VEGF tissue responses.
Methods: We compared the effects of transgenic VEGF165 in mice treated with viral pathogen–associated molecular pattern polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid [poly(I:C)], mice treated with live virus, and control mice.
Measurements and Main Results: Transgenic VEGF stimulated angiogenesis, edema, inflammation, and mucin accumulation. Each of these was abrogated by poly(I:C). These inhibitory effects were dose dependent, noted when poly(I:C) was administered before and after transgene activation, and mediated by a Toll-like receptor-3–independent and RIG-like helicase (RLH)– and type I IFN receptor–dependent pathway. VEGF stimulated the expression of VEGF receptor-1 and poly(I:C) inhibited this stimulation. Poly(I:C) also inhibited the ability of VEGF to activate extracellular signal–regulated kinase-1, Akt, focal adhesion kinase, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase, and aeroallergen-induced adaptive helper T-cell type 2 inflammation. Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus also inhibited VEGF-induced angiogenesis.
Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that poly(I:C) and respiratory viruses inhibit VEGF-induced tissue responses and adaptive helper T-cell type 2 inflammation and highlight the importance of a RLH- and type I IFN receptor–dependent pathway(s) in these regulatory events. They define a novel link between VEGF and antiviral and RLH innate immune responses and a novel pathway that regulates pulmonary VEGF activity.
PMCID: PMC3114061  PMID: 21278304
RIG-like helicase; mitochondrial antiviral signaling molecule; influenza virus; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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