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1.  Negative Control of TLR3 Signaling by TICAM1 Down-Regulation 
Toll–IL-1 receptor (TIR) domain-containing adaptor molecule-1 (TICAM1, also called TRIF) is an important adaptor protein in TLR3 and TLR4 signaling pathways that mediate proinflammatory cytokine and IFN responses. Negative regulation of TICAM1 by exogenous viral protease or by endogenous caspase and proteasome have been reported to shut down TICAM1-mediated signaling. In this study, we discovered that down-regulation of TICAM1, but not other components in this signaling pathway, occurred in a natural process of TLR3 activation induced by double-stranded RNA or human rhinovirus (RV) infection in airway epithelial cells and various other cell types. TICAM1 was essential for IFN expression, and the loss of TICAM1 significantly elevated RV production. The low level of TICAM1 protein expression, caused by the prior double-stranded RNA treatment, led to a lack of IFN production upon additional treatment, suggesting receptor desensitization. In follow-up studies, TICAM1 down-regulation was found to be dependent on TLR3 but not RIG1, MDA5, or PKR and appeared to be regulated post-translationally. Neither proteasome nor caspase inhibitors could prevent TICAM1 down-regulation. Instead, a lysosome-mediated process appeared to be involved, suggesting a novel mechanism that is different from previous reports. In conclusion, TICAM1 down-regulation is an essential step in TLR3 activation, and its function is to stop TLR3-mediated IFN production.
PMCID: PMC3359907  PMID: 22205631
TLR3; airway; desensitization; TICAM1; virus
2.  NF-κB Mediates IL-1β– and IL-17A–Induced MUC5B Expression in Airway Epithelial Cells 
A major pathological feature of chronic airway diseases is the elevated expression of gel-forming mucins. NF-κB activation in airway epithelial cells has been shown to play a proinflammatory role in chronic airway diseases; however, the specific role of NF-κB in mucin gene expression has not been characterized. In this study, we show that the proinflammatory cytokines, IL-1β and IL-17A, both of which use the NF-κB pathway, are potent inducers of MUC5B mRNA expression in both well differentiated primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells and the human bronchial epithelial cell line, HBE1. MUC5B induction by these cytokines was both time- and dose-dependent, and was attenuated by the small molecule inhibitor, NF-κB inhibitor III, as well as p65 small interfering RNA, suggesting that the regulation of MUC5B expression by these cytokines is via an NF-κB–based transcriptional mechanism. Deletion analysis of the MUC5B promoter demonstrated that IL-1β– and IL-17A–induced promoter activity resides within the −4.17-kb to −2.56-kb region relative to the transcriptional start site. This region contains three putative κB-binding sites (NF-κB-1, −3,786/−3,774; NF-κB-2, −3,173/−3,161; and NF-κB-3, −2,921/−2,909). Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis confirmed enhanced binding of the p50 NF-κB subunit to the NF-κB-3 site after cytokine stimulation. We conclude that an NF-κB-based transcriptional mechanism is involved in MUC5B regulation by IL-1β and IL-17A in airway epithelium. This is the first demonstration of the participation of NF-κB and its specific binding site in cytokine-mediated airway MUC5B expression.
PMCID: PMC3175554  PMID: 20935193
cytokines; gene regulation; mucin; transcription factors; lung
3.  Cloning and Characterization of Human MUC19 Gene 
The most recently discovered gel-forming mucin, MUC19, is expressed in both salivary glands and tracheal submucosal glands. We previously cloned the 3′−end partial sequence (AY236870), and here report the complete sequencing of the entire MUC19 cDNA. One highly variable region (HVR) was discovered in the 5′ end of MUC19. A total of 20 different splicing variants were detected in HVR, and 18 variants are able to translate into proteins along with the rest of the MUC19 sequence. The longest variant of MUC19 consists of 182 exons, with a transcript of approximately 25 kb. A central exon of approximately 12 kb contains highly repetitive sequences and has no intron interruption. The deduced MUC19 protein has the bona fide gel-forming mucin structure, VWD-VWD-VWD-“threonine/serine-rich repeats”-VWC-CT. An unusual structural feature of MUC19, which is lacking in other gel-forming mucins, is its long amino terminus upstream of the first VWD domain. The long amino terminus is mostly translated from the sequences in HVR, and contains serine-rich repetitive sequences. To validate the integrity of the MUC19 sequence, primers from both the 3′ and 5′ end were used to demonstrate a similar tissue expression pattern of MUC19 in trachea and salivary glands. In addition, antibodies were developed against either the amino (N) or carboxy (C) terminus of MUC19, and similar antibody staining patterns were observed in both salivary and tracheal submucosal glands. In conclusion, we have cloned and elucidated the entire MUC19 gene, which will facilitate understanding of the function and regulation of this important, yet understudied, mucin gene in airway diseases.
PMCID: PMC3175562  PMID: 21075863
mucin; MUC19; airway; epithelium; gland
4.  Rhinovirus-Induced Major Airway Mucin Production Involves a Novel TLR3-EGFR–Dependent Pathway 
Mucociliary clearance is a critical innate defense system responsible for clearing up invading pathogens including bacteria and virus. Although the right amount of mucus is good, excessive mucus causes airway obstruction and tends to precipitate disease symptoms. Rhinovirus (RV) is a common cold virus that causes asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation. Mucus overproduction has been linked to the pathogenesis of RV-induced diseases and disease exacerbations. However, the molecular mechanism is not clear. In this study, using one of the major airway mucin-MUC5AC as marker, we found that both major and minor groups of RV induced mucin production in primary human epithelial cells and cell line. RV1A (a minor group of RV) could induce mucous cell metaplasia in vivo. Viral replication was needed for RV-induced mucin expression, and this induction was also dependent on TLR3, suggesting the involvement of double-stranded (ds) RNA signaling. Indeed, dsRNA alone could also induce mucin expression. TLR3-mediated mucin induction was negatively regulated by MyD88, and only partially dependent on TRIF, which suggests a departure from well-documented TLR3 signaling paradigm that mediates inflammatory and other innate defense gene inductions. In addition, TLR3 signaling activated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) through inductions of the expression of EGFR ligands (transforming growth factor-α and amphiregulin), which in turn activated EGFR-ERK signaling and mucin expression through an autocrine/paracrine loop. This novel coupling of antiviral defense machinery (i.e., TLR3) and major epithelial proliferation/repair pathway (i.e., EGFR) might play an important role in viral-induced airway remodeling and airway disease exacerbation.
PMCID: PMC2677440  PMID: 18978302
mucin; airway epithelium; TLR3; rhinovirus
5.  PMA Stimulates MUC5B Gene Expression through an Sp1-Based Mechanism in Airway Epithelial Cells 
We previously showed that the MUC5B gene expression was elevated by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) through an epidermal growth factor receptor–independent Ras/MEKK1/JNK and P38 signaling-based transcriptional mechanism. In the current study, we elucidated the molecular basis of this transcriptional regulation using promoter-reporter gene expression and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays with primary human bronchial epithelial cells that are cultured at the air–liquid interface. We have observed that PMA-induced MUC5B promoter activity is blocked by the Sp1-binding inhibitor, mithramycin A, in a dose-dependent manner. Deletion analysis with the MUC5B promoter construct demonstrated that both basal and PMA-induced promoter-reporter activities reside within the −222/−78 bp region relative to the transcriptional start site. NoShift transcriptional factor assays demonstrated that PMA stimulated Sp1 binding, but not STAT1 and c-Myc binding. Immunoprecipitation studies also verified the enhanced phosphorylation of Sp1 after PMA treatment. Site-directed mutagenesis and transfection studies demonstrated the involvement of Sp1-1 (−122/−114) and the Sp1-2 (−197/−186) cis elements in the basal and PMA-induced MUC5B promoter activity. The ChIP assay with anti-RNA polymerase II reconfirmed the PMA-induced MUC5B promoter activity by showing enhanced RNA polymerase II–DNA complex containing putative MUC5B Sp1-1, Sp1-2, or Sp1-3 sites. However, the ChIP assay using anti-Sp1 antibody demonstrated that the PMA-stimulated binding is only at Sp1-2. These results suggested an Sp1-based transcriptional mechanism with Sp1-1 as the regulator of basal MUC5B promoter activity and Sp1-2 as the regulator of PMA-induced MUC5B gene expression in the human airway epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2048678  PMID: 17600309
MUC5B; Sp-1; transcription; site-directed mutagenesis; ChIP
6.  Rhinovirus Induces Airway Epithelial Gene Expression through Double-Stranded RNA and IFN-Dependent Pathways 
Rhinovirus (RV) infection is the major cause of common colds and of asthma exacerbations. Because the epithelial cell layer is the primary target of RV infection, we hypothesize that RV-induced airway disease is associated with the perturbation of airway epithelial gene expression. In this study, well differentiated primary human airway epithelial cells were infected with either RV16 (major group) or RV1B (minor group). Transcriptional gene profiles from RV-infected and mock-infected control cells were analyzed by Affymetrix Genechip, and changes of the gene expression were confirmed by real-time RT-PCR analysis. At 24 h after infection, 48 genes induced by both viruses were identified. Most of these genes are related to the IFN pathway, and have been documented to have antiviral functions. Indeed, a significant stimulation of IFN-β secretion was detected after RV16 infection. Neutralizing antibody specific to IFN-β and a specific inhibitor of the Janus kinase pathway both significantly blocked the induction of RV-inducible genes. Further studies demonstrated that 2-aminopurine, a specific inhibitor double-stranded RNA–dependent protein kinase, could block both IFN-β production and RV-induced gene expression. Thus, IFN-β–dependent pathway is a part of the double-stranded RNA–initiated pathway that is responsible for RV-induced gene expression. Consistent with its indispensable role in the induction of antiviral genes, deactivation of this signaling pathway significantly enhanced viral production. Because increase of viral yield is associated with the severity of RV-induced airway illness, the discovery of an epithelial antiviral signaling pathway in this study will contribute to our understanding of the pathogenesis of RV-induced colds and asthma exacerbations.
PMCID: PMC2644182  PMID: 16210696
airway epithelium; gene expression; rhinovirus; transcriptional profiling
7.  Differential Regulation of MUC5AC/Muc5ac and hCLCA-1/mGob-5 Expression in Airway Epithelium 
This study demonstrates that the two biomarkers, MUC5AC/ Muc5ac and hCLCA1/Gob5, which are frequently associated with surface mucous/goblet cells in asthmatic airways, are differentially regulated. Intratracheal instillation of IL-13 (0.5 μg/mouse lung) elicited 8- and 110-fold induction of Muc5ac and Gob5 messages, respectively, within 24 h in wild-type mouse lung, whereas these inductions were abrogated in Stat6 knockout mice. The induction of MUC5AC/Muc5ac message could not be duplicated in vitro with primary tracheobronchial epithelial (TBE) cells derived from wild-type mice or humans, despite significant inductions still seen for hCLCA1/Gob5. Further studies with JAK inhibitors and STAT6 signaling showed active signaling of the JAK/STAT6 pathway in these primary TBE cultures by IL-13 in the regulation of hCLCA1 expression. Dual immunofluorescent staining with antibodies specific to MUC5AC and hCLCA1 revealed a differential nature of the expression of these two biomarkers by distinct cell types of primary TBE cultures. Finally, MUC5AC expression could be elevated by a bacterial product, peptidoglycan, without any induction of hCLCA1. Thus, these results suggest that the two biomakers of the metaplastic airway mucous cell type are differentially regulated by JAK/STAT6-dependent and -independent pathways.
PMCID: PMC2715330  PMID: 16151054
airway epithelium; cytokine; JAK/STAT; mucin; Gob-5

Results 1-7 (7)