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1.  IL-17A Induces Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription–6–Independent Airway Mucous Cell Metaplasia 
Mucous cell metaplasia is a hallmark of asthma, and may be mediated by signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT)–6 signaling. IL-17A is increased in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of patients with severe asthma, and IL-17A also increases mucus production in airway epithelial cells. Asthma therapeutics are being developed that inhibit STAT6 signaling, but the role of IL-17A in inducing mucus production in the absence of STAT6 remains unknown. We hypothesized that IL-17A induces mucous cell metaplasia independent of STAT6, and we tested this hypothesis in two murine models in which increased IL-17A protein expression is evident. In the first model, ovalbumin (OVA)–specific D011.10 Th17 cells were adoptively transferred into wild-type (WT) or STAT6 knockout (KO) mice, and the mice were challenged with OVA or PBS. WT-OVA and STAT6 KO-OVA mice demonstrated increased airway IL-17A and IL-13 protein expression and mucous cell metaplasia, compared with WT-PBS or STAT6 KO-PBS mice. In the second model, WT, STAT1 KO, STAT1/STAT6 double KO (DKO), or STAT1/STAT6/IL-17 receptor A (RA) triple KO (TKO) mice were challenged with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or mock viral preparation, and the mucous cells were assessed. STAT1 KO-RSV mice demonstrated increased airway mucous cell metaplasia compared with WT-RSV mice. STAT1 KO-RSV and STAT1/STAT6 DKO-RSV mice also demonstrated increased mucous cell metaplasia, compared with STAT1/STAT6/IL17RA TKO-RSV mice. We also treated primary murine tracheal epithelial cells (mTECs) from WT and STAT6 KO mice. STAT6 KO mTECs showed increased periodic acid–Schiff staining with IL-17A but not with IL-13. Thus, asthma therapies targeting STAT6 may increase IL-17A protein expression, without preventing IL-17A–induced mucus production.
PMCID: PMC3727878  PMID: 23392574
asthma; mucous cell metaplasia; IL-17A; STAT6; IL-13
2.  A Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C Kinase Substrate–Related Peptide Suppresses Cytokine mRNA and Protein Expression in LPS-Activated Canine Neutrophils 
Myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) is a ubiquitously expressed protein kinase C substrate that has emerged as a potential therapeutic target for the amelioration of mucin secretion and inflammation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. MARCKS also plays a key role in regulating the adhesion, migration, and degranulation of neutrophils. Moreover, given its biological role in epithelial and immune cells, we hypothesized that MARCKS may play an integral role in cytokine secretion by neutrophils. Because the amino terminus of MARCKS is highly conserved across vertebrate species, we successfully applied the well-characterized human MARCKS inhibitory peptide, myristoylated N-terminal sequence (MANS), to attenuate the function of MARCKS in isolated canine neutrophils. Pretreatment of canine neutrophils with MANS peptide significantly reduced both mRNA and protein expression in a broad range of LPS-induced cytokines, including IL-8, a chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand–1 orthologue, and TNF-α, in comparison with untreated cells or those treated with a control peptide. This reduction in cytokine expression was observed even when neutrophils were treated with MANS 2 hours after LPS exposure. The observed reduction in cytokine secretion was not attributable to protein retention or cell death, but was associated with reduced cytokine transcript synthesis. These observations identify MARCKS protein as a promising therapeutic target in the treatment of inflammatory diseases or syndromes attributed to neutrophil influx and inflammatory cytokine production, such as sepsis, acute lung injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3604091  PMID: 23221047
MARCKS; cytokine; inflammation; neutrophil
3.  Mesenchymal Stem Cells Require MARCKS Protein for Directed Chemotaxis In Vitro 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) reside within tissues such as bone marrow, cord blood, and dental pulp and can differentiate into other mesenchymal cell types. Differentiated MSCs, called circulating fibrocytes, have been demonstrated in human lungs and migrate to injured lung tissue in experimental models. It is likely that MSCs migrate from the bone marrow to sites of injury by following increasing chemokine concentrations. In the present study, we show that primary mouse bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) exhibit directed chemotaxis through transwell inserts toward increasing concentrations of the chemokines complement component 5a, stromal cell–derived factor-1α, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1. Prior research has indicated that myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) protein is critically important for motility in macrophages, neutrophils, and fibroblasts, and here we investigated a possible role for MARCKS in BM-MSC directed chemotaxis. The presence of MARCKS in these cells as well as in human cord blood MSC was verified by Western blotting, and MARCKS was rapidly phosphorylated in these cells after exposure to chemokines. A synthetic peptide that inhibits MARCKS function attenuated, in a concentration-dependent manner, directed chemotaxis of BM-MSCs, while a missense control peptide had no effect. Our results illustrate, for the first time, that MARCKS protein plays an integral role in BM-MSC–directed chemotaxis in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3159077  PMID: 20224071
mesenchymal; MARCKS; chemotaxis; chemokines; phosphorylation
4.  MARCKS and Related Chaperones Bind to Unconventional Myosin V Isoforms in Airway Epithelial Cells 
We have shown previously that myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) is a key regulatory molecule in the process of mucin secretion by airway epithelial cells, and that part of the secretory mechanism involves intracellular associations of MARCKS with specific chaperones: heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) and cysteine string protein (CSP). Here, we report that MARCKS also interacts with unconventional myosin isoforms within these cells, and further molecular interactions between MARCKS and these chaperones/cytoskeletal proteins are elucidated. Primary human bronchial epithelial cells and the HBE1 cell line both expressed myosin V and VI proteins, and both MARCKS and CSP were shown to bind to myosin V, specifically Va and Vc. This binding was enhanced by exposing the cells to phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate, an activator of protein kinase C and stimulator of mucin secretion. Binding of MARCKS, Hsp70, and CSP was further investigated by His-tagged pull down assays of purified recombinant proteins and multiple transfections of HBE1 cells with fusion proteins (MARCKS-HA; Flag-Hsp70; c-Myc-CSP) and immunoprecipitation. The results showed that MARCKS binds directly to Hsp70, and that Hsp70 binds directly to CSP, but that MARCKS binding to CSP appears to require the presence of Hsp70. Interrelated binding(s) of MARCKS, chaperones, and unconventional myosin isoforms may be integral to the mucin secretion process.
PMCID: PMC2937227  PMID: 20203291
airway; mucin; MARCKS; chaperones; myosin
5.  Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C-Kinase Substrate (MARCKS) Protein Regulation of Human Neutrophil Migration 
Neutrophil migration into infected tissues is essential for host defense, but products of activated neutrophils can be quite damaging to host cells. Neutrophil influx into the lung and airways and resultant inflammation characterizes diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, and cystic fibrosis. To migrate, neutrophils must reorganize the actin cytoskeleton to establish a leading edge pseudopod and a trailing edge uropod. The actin-binding protein myristoylated alanine-rich C-kinase substrate (MARCKS) has been shown to bind and cross-link actin in a variety of cell types and to co-localize with F-actin in the leading edge lamellipodium of migrating fibroblasts. The hypothesis that MARCKS has a role in the regulation of neutrophil migration was tested using a cell-permeant peptide derived from the MARCKS myristoylated aminoterminus (MANS peptide). Treatment of isolated human neutrophils with MANS significantly inhibited both their migration and β2 integrin-dependent adhesion in response to N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLF), IL-8, or leukotriene (LT)B4. The IC50 for fMLF-induced migration and adhesion was 17.1 μM and 12.5 μM, respectively. MANS significantly reduced the F-actin content in neutrophils 30 seconds after fMLF stimulation, although the peptide did not alter the ability of cells to polarize or spread. MANS did not alter fMLF-induced increases in surface β2 integrin expression. These results suggest that MARCKS, via its myristoylated aminoterminus, is a key regulator of neutrophil migration and adhesion.
PMCID: PMC2874444  PMID: 19574534
inflammation; adhesion; β2 integrin; actin
6.  MARCKS Regulation of Mucin Secretion by Airway Epithelium in Vitro 
We have reported previously that myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) is a key regulatory molecule controlling mucin secretion by airway epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo. The results of those studies supported a mechanism whereby MARCKS, upon phosphorylation by protein kinase C (PKC), translocates from plasma membrane to cytoplasm, where its binding to membranes of intracellular mucin granules is a key component of the secretory pathway. It remains unknown how MARCKS is targeted to and/or preferentially attaches to mucin granule membranes. We hypothesized that the chaperone cysteine string protein (CSP) may play an important role in this process. CSP was shown to associate with membranes of intracellular mucin granules in well-differentiated normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells in vitro, as determined by ultrastructural immunohistochemistry and Western blotting of isolated granule membranes. CSP in these cells complexed with MARCKS, as shown by co-immunoprecipitation. Given reported associations between CSP and a second chaperone, heat shock protein 70 (HSP70), a role for HSP70 in the MARCKS-dependent secretory mechanism also was investigated. HSP70 appeared to form a trimeric complex with MARCKS and CSP associated with mucin granule membranes within airway epithelial cells. Transfection of the HBE1 human bronchial epithelial cell line with siRNAs targeting sequences of MARCKS, CSP, or HSP70 resulted, in each case, in significant knockdown of expression of these proteins and subsequent attenuation of mucin secretion. The results provide the first evidence that CSP and HSP70, and their interactions with MARCKS, are involved in mucin secretion.
PMCID: PMC2438449  PMID: 18314541
MARCKS; cysteine string protein; heat shock protein 70; airway; mucin
7.  A Peptide Against the N-Terminus of Myristoylated Alanine-Rich C Kinase Substrate Inhibits Degranulation of Human Leukocytes In Vitro 
Leukocytes synthesize a variety of inflammatory mediators that are packaged and stored in the cytoplasm within membrane-bound granules. Upon stimulation, the cells secrete the granule contents via an exocytotic process whereby the granules translocate to the cell periphery, the granule membranes fuse with the plasma membrane, and the granule contents are released extracellularly. We have reported previously that another exocytotic process, release of mucin by secretory cells of the airway epithelium, is regulated by the myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) (Li Y, Martin LD, Spizz G, Adler KB. MARCKS protein is a key molecule regulating mucin secretion by human airway epithelial cells in vitro. J Biol Chem 2001;276:40982–40990; Singer M, Martin LD, Vargaftig BB, Park J, Gruber AD, Li Y, Adler KB. A MARCKS-related peptide blocks mucus hypersecretion in a mouse model of asthma. Nat Med 2004;10:193–196). In those studies, mucin secretion in vitro and in vivo was attenuated by a synthetic peptide identical to the N-terminus of MARCKS, named the MANS peptide (Li and colleagues, 2001). In this study, we used the MANS peptide to investigate possible involvement of MARCKS in secretion of leukocyte granule proteins. In neutrophils isolated from human blood, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate–induced myeloperoxidase release was attenuated in a concentration-dependent manner by MANS but not by equal concentrations of a missense control peptide. In additional studies using human leukocyte cell lines, secretion of eosinophil peroxidase from the eosinophil-like cell line HL-60 clone 15, lysozyme from the monocytic leukemia cell line U937, and granzyme from the lymphocyte natural killer cell line NK-92 were attenuated by preincubation of the cells with MANS but not with the missense control peptide. The results indicate that MARCKS protein may play an important role in the secretion of membrane-bound granules from different leukocytes. MARCKS may be an important component of secretory pathways associated with release of granules by different cell types.
PMCID: PMC2644225  PMID: 16543603
MARCKS protein; leukocytes; degranulation
8.  (R)-Albuterol Elicits Antiinflammatory Effects in Human Airway Epithelial Cells via iNOS 
Catecholamines can suppress production of inflammatory mediators in different cell types, including airway epithelium, but downstream signaling mechanisms involved in regulation of these antiinflammatory effects are largely unknown. We theorized that acute β2-adrenergic stimulation of airway epithelial cells with albuterol could suppress the production and release of inflammatory mediators, specifically granulocyte macrophage–colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) via a pathway involving inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells in primary culture were exposed to a cytokine mixture (10 ng/ml each IFN-γ and IL-1β) to induce iNOS expression. (R)- and (S)-enantiomers of albuterol, as well as racemic mixtures, were added with these cytokines, and effects on GM-CSF expression and production were assessed. Specific inhibitors and activators of protein kinases (PKs), β2-adrenergic receptor antagonists, and small interfering RNAs against iNOS were used to delineate signaling pathways involved. iNOS message was significantly upregulated in a concentration-dependent manner by the active (R)-enantiomer of albuterol. (R)-albuterol also attenuated cytokine-induced increases in GM-CSF steady-state mRNA expression and protein release. The (S)-enantomer of albuterol had no effect on these parameters. PKC, specifically, the δ isoform, was required for iNOS message increase, but PKA and PKG were not involved in the pathway. Overall, this study identifies a novel pathway by which β2-adrenergic agonists may exhibit antiinflammatory effects in airway epithelium and surrounding milieu.
PMCID: PMC2644187  PMID: 16195534
albuterol; asthma; cytokines; epithelium; inducible nitric oxide synthase

Results 1-8 (8)