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1.  The Human Cathelicidin LL-37 Preferentially Promotes Apoptosis of Infected Airway Epithelium 
Cationic host defence peptides are key, evolutionarily conserved components of the innate immune system. The human cathelicidin LL-37 is an important cationic host defence peptide upregulated in infection and inflammation, including in the human lung, and has been shown to enhance the pulmonary clearance of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa in vivo by as yet undefined mechanisms. In addition to direct microbicidal potential, LL-37 can modulate inflammation and immune mechanisms in host defence against infection, including the capacity to modulate cell death pathways. We demonstrate that at physiologically relevant concentrations of LL-37, this peptide preferentially promoted the apoptosis of infected airway epithelium, via enhanced LL-37-induced mitochondrial membrane depolarisation and release of cytochrome c, with activation of caspases -9 and -3 and induction of apoptosis, which only occurred in the presence of both peptide and bacteria, but not with either stimulus alone. This synergistic induction of apoptosis in infected cells was caspase-dependent, contrasting with the caspase-independent cell death induced by supra-physiological levels of peptide alone. We demonstrate that the synergistic induction of apoptosis by LL-37 and P. aeruginosa required specific bacteria-epithelial cell interaction with whole, live bacteria, and bacterial invasion of the epithelial cell. We propose that LL-37-mediated apoptosis of infected, compromised airway epithelial cells might represent a novel inflammomodulatory role for this peptide in innate host defence, promoting clearance of respiratory pathogens.
PMCID: PMC2993089  PMID: 20097832
LL-37; cathelicidin; Cationic host defence peptide; antimicrobial peptide; airway epithelium; innate immunity; Pseudomonas; lung; apoptosis; cell death; Bax; Caspase; cystic fibrosis
2.  Epithelial Cells from Smokers Modify Dendritic Cell Responses in the Context of Influenza Infection 
Epidemiologic evidence suggests that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for infection with influenza, but the mechanisms underlying this susceptibility remain unknown. To ascertain if airway epithelial cells from smokers demonstrate a decreased ability to orchestrate an influenza-induced immune response, we established a model using differentiated nasal epithelial cells (NECs) from nonsmokers and smokers, co-cultured with peripheral blood monocyte–derived dendritic cells (mono-DCs) from nonsmokers. NEC/mono-DC co-cultures were infected with influenza A virus and analyzed for influenza-induced immune responses 24 hours after infection. We observed that NECs from smokers, as well as mono-DCs co-cultured with NECs from smokers, exhibited suppressed influenza-induced, interferon-related proteins interferon regulatory factor–7, Toll-like receptor–3, and retinoic acid inducible gene–1, likely because of the suppressed production of IFNα from the NECs of smokers. Furthermore, NEC/mono-DC co-cultures using NECs from smokers exhibited suppressed concentrations of T-cell/natural killer cell chemokine interferon gamma–induced protein 10 (IP-10) after infection with influenza, indicating that NECs from smokers may skew early influenza-induced Th1 responses. In contrast, NEC/mono-DC co-cultures using NEC from smokers contained increased influenza-induced concentrations of the Th2 chemokine thymic stromal lymphopoeitin (TSLP). In addition, NECs from smokers cultured alone had increased influenza-induced concentrations of the Th2 chemokine thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC). Using this model, we demonstrated that in the context of infection with influenza, NECs obtained from smokers create an overall cytokine microenvironment that suppresses the interferon-mediated Th1 response and enhances the TSLP–TARC–mediated Th2 response, with the potential to modify the responses of DCs. Smoking-induced alterations in the Th1/Th2 balance may play a role in developing underlying susceptibilities to respiratory viral infections, and may also promote the likelihood of acquiring Th2 proallergic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3175553  PMID: 20935192
influenza; cigarette smoke; nasal epithelial cell; dendritic cell; co-culture
3.  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
4.  Coupled Nucleotide and Mucin Hypersecretion from Goblet-Cell Metaplastic Human Airway Epithelium 
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and its metabolite adenosine regulate airway mucociliary clearance via activation of purinoceptors. In this study, we investigated the contribution of goblet cells to airway epithelial ATP release. Primary human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cultures, typically dominated by ciliated cells, were induced to develop goblet cell metaplasia by infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or treatment with IL-13. Under resting conditions, goblet-cell metaplastic cultures displayed enhanced mucin secretion accompanied by increased rates of ATP release and mucosal surface adenosine accumulation as compared with nonmetaplastic control HBE cultures. Intracellular calcium chelation [1,2-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid tetraacetoxymethyl ester] or disruption of the secretory pathways (nocodazole, brefeldin A, and N-ethylmaleimide) decreased mucin secretion and ATP release in goblet-cell metaplastic HBE cultures. Conversely, stimuli that triggered calcium-regulated mucin secretion (e.g., ionomycin or UTP) increased luminal ATP release and adenyl purine accumulation in control and goblet-cell metaplastic HBE cultures. Goblet cell–associated ATP release was not blocked by the connexin/pannexin hemichannel inhibitor carbenoxolone, suggesting direct nucleotide release from goblet cell vesicles rather than the hemichannel insertion. Collectively, our data demonstrate that nucleotide release is increased by goblet cell metaplasia, reflecting, at least in part, a mechanism tightly associated with goblet cell mucin secretion. Increased goblet cell nucleotide release and resultant adenosine accumulation provide compensatory mechanisms to hydrate mucins by paracrine stimulation of ciliated cell ion and water secretion and maintain mucociliary clearance, and to modulate inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3175555  PMID: 20935191
goblet cell metaplasia; ATP release; mucin; airway epithelia; RSV
5.  2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin–Induced MUC5AC Expression 
2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is a potent environmental toxicant. Epidemiological studies have associated TCDD exposure with the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is manifested by mucous/goblet cell hyperplasia. The purpose of this research was to elucidate the pathway/mechanisms that lead to TCDD-induced gene expression in both primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells and an immortalized cell line, HBE1, under air–liquid interface conditions. TCDD exposure induced a time-dependent elevation of MUC5AC mRNA and protein synthesis, and cytochrome p450 1A1 (CYP1A1) expression in these cells. Treatment with an aryl hydrocarbon receptor antagonist had no effect on TCDD-induced MUC5AC expression, but significantly suppressed CYP1A1 induction. However, treatments with inhibitors of signaling pathways and the expression of dominant negative mutants of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) and p38, but not the inhibition of c-Jun N-terminal kinase pathway, abrogated MUC5AC induction, but not that of CYP1A1. These effects also occurred at the MUC5AC promoter–reporter level using the chimeric construct for a transient transfection study. Western blot analysis confirmed the phosphorylation of activated EGFR, ERK, and p38 signaling molecules, but not the c-Jun N-terminal kinase, in cells after TCDD exposure. Specificity protein 1 (Sp1) phosphorylation also occurred in cells after TCDD exposure. Both MUC5AC expression and the promoter activity were inhibited by mithramycin A, an inhibitor specific to Sp1-based transcription. These results lead to the conclusion that TCDD induced MUC5AC expression through a noncanonical aryl hydrocarbon receptor–independent, EGFR/ERK/p38–mediated signaling pathway–mediated/Sp1-based transcriptional mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3175556  PMID: 20971882
2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; airways; mucin; signaling
6.  Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in Human Bone Marrow Stromal Cells 
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common respiratory pathogen in infants and young children. The pathophysiology of this infection in the respiratory system has been studied extensively, but little is known about its consequences in other systems. We studied whether RSV infects human bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) in vitro and in vivo, and investigated whether and how this infection affects BMSC structure and hematopoietic support function. Primary human BMSCs were infected in vitro with recombinant RSV expressing green fluorescent protein. In addition, RNA from naive BMSCs was amplified by PCR, and the products were sequenced to confirm homology with the RSV genome. The BMSC cytoskeleton was visualized by immunostaining for actin. Finally, we analyzed infected BMSCs for the expression of multiple cytokines and chemokines, evaluated their hematopoietic support capacity, and measured their chemotactic activity for both lymphoid and myeloid cells. We found that BMSCs support RSV replication in vitro with efficiency that varies among cell lines derived from different donors; furthermore, RNA sequences homologous to the RSV genome were found in naive primary human BMSCs. RSV infection disrupted cytoskeletal actin microfilaments, altered cytokine/chemokine expression patterns, decreased the ability of BMSCs to support B cell maturation, and modulated local chemotaxis. Our data indicate that RSV infects human BMSCs in vitro, and this infection has important structural and functional consequences that might affect hematopoietic and immune functions. Furthermore, we have amplified viral RNA from naive primary BMSCs, suggesting that in vivo these cells provide RSV with an extrapulmonary target.
PMCID: PMC3175557  PMID: 20971883
asthma; bronchiolitis; chemotaxis; cytokines; hematopoiesis
7.  miR-29 Is a Major Regulator of Genes Associated with Pulmonary Fibrosis 
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small regulatory RNAs that control gene expression by translational suppression and destabilization of target mRNAs. There is increasing evidence that miRNAs regulate genes associated with fibrosis in organs, such as the heart, kidney, liver, and the lung. In a large-scale screening for miRNAs potentially involved in bleomycin-induced fibrosis, we found expression of miR-29 family members significantly reduced in fibrotic lungs. Analysis of normal lungs showed the presence of miR-29 in subsets of interstitial cells of the alveolar wall, pleura, and at the entrance of the alveolar duct, known sites of pulmonary fibrosis. miR-29 levels inversely correlated with the expression levels of profibrotic target genes and the severity of the fibrosis. To study the impact of miR-29 down-regulation in the lung interstitium, we characterized gene expression profiles of human fetal lung fibroblast IMR-90 cells in which endogenous miR-29 was knocked down. This confirmed the derepression of reported miR-29 targets, including several collagens, but also revealed up-regulation of a large number of previously unrecognized extracellular matrix–associated and remodeling genes. Moreover, we found that miR-29 is suppressed by transforming growth factor (TGF)–β1 in these cells, and that many fibrosis-associated genes up-regulated by TGF-β1 are derepressed by miR-29 knockdown. Interestingly, a comparison of TGF-β1 and miR-29 targets revealed that miR-29 controls an additional subset of fibrosis-related genes, including laminins and integrins, independent of TGF-β1. Together, these strongly suggest a role of miR-29 in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. miR-29 may be a potential new therapeutic target for this disease.
PMCID: PMC3175558  PMID: 20971881
miR-29; pulmonary fibrosis; basement membrane; profibrotic genes; TGF-β1
8.  Functional Expression of γ–Amino Butyric Acid Transporter 2 in Human and Guinea Pig Airway Epithelium and Smooth Muscle 
γ−Amino butyric acid (GABA) is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and is classically released by fusion of synaptic vesicles with the plasma membrane or by egress via GABA transporters (GATs). Recently, a GABAergic system comprised of GABAA and GABAB receptors has been identified on airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells that regulate mucus secretion and contractile tone of airway smooth muscle (ASM). In addition, the enzyme that synthesizes GABA, glutamic acid decarboxylase, has been identified in airway epithelial cells; however, the mechanism(s) by which this synthesized GABA is released from epithelial intracellular stores is unknown. We questioned whether any of the four known isoforms of GATs are functionally expressed in ASM or epithelial cells. We detected mRNA and protein expression of GAT2 and -4, and isoforms of glutamic acid decarboxylase in native and cultured human ASM and epithelial cells. In contrast, mRNA encoding vesicular GAT (VGAT), the neuronal GABA transporter, was not detected. Functional inhibition of 3H-GABA uptake was demonstrated using GAT2 and GAT4/betaine–GABA transporter 1 (BGT1) inhibitors in both human ASM and epithelial cells. These results demonstrate that two isoforms of GATs, but not VGAT, are expressed in both airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells. They also provide a mechanism by which locally synthesized GABA can be released from these cells into the airway to activate GABAA channels and GABAB receptors, with subsequent autocrine and/or paracrine signaling effects on airway epithelium and ASM.
PMCID: PMC3175560  PMID: 21057105
vesicular γ–amino butyric acid transporter; 3H–γ–amino butyric acid uptake; immunoblot; RT-PCR
9.  Adiponectin Decreases Pulmonary Arterial Remodeling in Murine Models of Pulmonary Hypertension 
Remodeling of the pulmonary arteries is a common feature among the heterogeneous disorders that cause pulmonary hypertension. In these disorders, the remodeled pulmonary arteries often demonstrate inflammation and an accumulation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) within the vessels. Adipose tissue secretes multiple bioactive mediators (adipokines) that can influence both inflammation and remodeling, suggesting that adipokines may contribute to the development of pulmonary hypertension. We recently reported on a model of pulmonary hypertension induced by vascular inflammation, in which a deficiency of the adipokine adiponectin (APN) was associated with the extensive proliferation of PASMCs and increased pulmonary artery pressures. Based on these data, we hypothesize that APN can suppress pulmonary hypertension by directly inhibiting the proliferation of PASMCs. Here, we tested the effects of APN overexpression on pulmonary arterial remodeling by using APN-overexpressing mice in a model of pulmonary hypertension induced by inflammation. Consistent with our hypothesis, mice that overexpressed APN manfiested reduced pulmonary hypertension and remodeling compared with wild-type mice, despite developing similar levels of pulmonary vascular inflammation in the model. The overexpression of APN was also protective in a hypoxic model of pulmonary hypertension. Furthermore, APN suppressed the proliferation of PASMCs, and reduced the activity of the serum response factor–serum response element pathway, which is a critical signaling pathway for smooth muscle cell proliferation. Overall, these data suggest that APN can regulate pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary arterial remodeling through its direct effects on PASMCs. Hence, the activation of APN-like activity in the pulmonary vasculature may be beneficial in pulmonary hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3175561  PMID: 21075862
pulmonary hypertension; pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells; metabolism; adiponectin
10.  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
11.  TNF-α–Converting Enzyme/A Disintegrin and Metalloprotease−17 Mediates Mechanotransduction in Murine Tracheal Epithelial Cells 
Bronchoconstriction applies compressive stress to airway epithelial cells. We show that the application of compressive stress to cultured murine tracheal epithelial cells elicits the increased phosphorylation of extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) and Akt through an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)–dependent process, consistent with previous observations of the bronchoconstriction-induced activation of EGFR in both human and murine airways. Mechanotransduction requires metalloprotease activity, indicating a pivotal role for proteolytic EGF-family ligand shedding. However, cells derived from mice with targeted deletions of the EGFR ligands Tgfα and Hb-egf showed only modest decreases in responses, even when combined with neutralizing antibodies to the EGFR ligands epiregulin and amphiregulin, suggesting redundant or compensatory roles for individual EGF family members in mechanotransduction. In contrast, cells harvested from mice with a conditional deletion of the gene encoding the TNF-α–converting enzyme (TACE/ADAM17), a sheddase for multiple EGF-family proligands, displayed a near-complete attenuation of ERK and Akt phosphorylation responses and compressive stress–induced gene regulation. Our data provide strong evidence that TACE plays a critical central role in the transduction of compressive stress.
PMCID: PMC3175563  PMID: 21097655
asthma; airway remodelling; TACE
12.  Ascorbate and Deferoxamine Administration after Chlorine Exposure Decrease Mortality and Lung Injury in Mice 
Chlorine (Cl2) gas exposure poses an environmental and occupational hazard that frequently results in acute lung injury. There is no effective treatment. We assessed the efficacy of antioxidants, administered after exposure, in decreasing mortality and lung injury in C57BL/6 mice exposed to 600 ppm of Cl2 for 45 minutes and returned to room air. Ascorbate and deferoxamine were administered intramuscularly every 12 hours and by nose-only inhalation every 24 hours for 3 days starting after 1 hour after exposure. Control mice were exposed to Cl2 and treated with vehicle (saline or water). Mortality was reduced fourfold in the treatment group compared with the control group (22 versus 78%; P = 0.007). Surviving animals in the treatment group had significantly lower protein concentrations, cell counts, and epithelial cells in their bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Lung tissue ascorbate correlated inversely with BAL protein as well as with the number of neutrophils and epithelial cells. In addition, lipid peroxidation was reduced threefold in the BAL of mice treated with ascorbate and deferoxamine when compared with the control group. Administration of ascorbate and deferoxamine reduces mortality and decreases lung injury through reduction of alveolar–capillary permeability, inflammation, and epithelial sloughing and lipid peroxidation.
PMCID: PMC3175564  PMID: 21131440
acute lung injury; oxidative stress; survival; aerosols; antioxidants
13.  Novel Regulators of the Systemic Response to Lipopolysaccharide 
Our understanding of the role that host genetic factors play in the initiation and severity of infections caused by gram-negative bacteria is incomplete. To identify novel regulators of the host response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), 11 inbred murine strains were challenged with LPS systemically. In addition to two strains lacking functional TLR4 (C3H/HeJ and C57BL/6JTLR4−/−), three murine strains with functional TLR4 (C57BL/6J, 129/SvImJ, and NZW/LacJ) were found to be relatively resistant to systemic LPS challenge; the other six strains were classified as sensitive. RNA from lung, liver, and spleen tissue was profiled on oligonucleotide microarrays to determine if unique transcripts differentiate susceptible and resistant strains. Gene expression analysis identified the Hedgehog signaling pathway and a number of transcription factors (TFs) involved in the response to LPS. RNA interference–mediated inhibition of six TFs (C/EBP, Cdx-2, E2F1, Hoxa4, Nhlh1, and Tead2) was found to diminish IL-6 and TNF-α production by murine macrophages. Mouse lines with targeted mutations were used to verify the involvement of two novel genes in innate immunity. Compared with wild-type control mice, mice deficient in the E2F1 transcription factor were found to have a reduced inflammatory response to systemic LPS, and mice heterozygote for Ptch, a gene involved in Hedgehog signaling, were found to be more responsive to systemic LPS. Our analysis of gene expression data identified novel pathways and transcription factors that regulate the host response to systemic LPS. Our results provide potential sepsis biomarkers and therapeutic targets that should be further investigated in human populations.
PMCID: PMC3175565  PMID: 21131441
endotoxic shock; gram-negative sepsis; inbred murine strains; gene expression; microarray; transcription factor
14.  Context-Dependent Differentiation of Multipotential Keratin 14–Expressing Tracheal Basal Cells 
Multipotential (MP) differentiation is one characteristic of a tissue-specific stem cell (TSC). Lineage tracing of tracheobronchial basal cells after naphthalene (NA) injury or in the postnatal period demonstrated that basal cells were MP progenitors for Clara-like and ciliated cells. These studies, as well as reports of spatially restricted, label-retaining basal cells, and MP differentiation by human bronchial cells support the hypothesis that a TSC maintained and repaired the tracheobronchial epithelium. However, differences in basal cell phenotype (keratin [K] 5+ versus K14+), age (postnatal versus adult), health status (normal versus injured), and injury type (acid, detergent, NA) limited comparisons among studies and thus diminished the strength of the TSC argument. The finding that K14 was up-regulated after NA injury was a caveat to our previous analysis of reparative (r)K14-expressing cells (EC). Thus, the present study lineage traced steady-state (s)K14EC and evaluated differentiation potential in the normal and repairing epithelium. We showed that sK14EC were unipotential in the normal epithelium and MP after NA, sK14EC-dervied clones were not restricted to putative TSC niches, sK14EC cells were a direct progenitor for Clara-like and ciliated cells, MP-sK14EC clones accumulated over time, and sK14EC-derived Clara-like cells were progenitors for ciliated cells.
PMCID: PMC3175566  PMID: 21131447
basal; clara-like; ciliated; differentiation potential; lineage tracing; tissue-specific stem cell
15.  Chlorine Gas Exposure Causes Systemic Endothelial Dysfunction by Inhibiting Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase–Dependent Signaling 
Chlorine gas (Cl2) exposure during accidents or in the military setting results primarily in injury to the lungs. However, the potential for Cl2 exposure to promote injury to the systemic vasculature leading to compromised vascular function has not been studied. We hypothesized that Cl2 promotes extrapulmonary endothelial dysfunction characterized by a loss of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)-derived signaling. Male Sprague Dawley rats were exposed to Cl2 for 30 minutes, and eNOS-dependent vasodilation of aorta as a function of Cl2 dose (0–400 ppm) and time after exposure (0–48 h) were determined. Exposure to Cl2 (250–400 ppm) significantly inhibited eNOS-dependent vasodilation (stimulated by acetycholine) at 24 to 48 hours after exposure without affecting constriction responses to phenylephrine or vasodilation responses to an NO donor, suggesting decreased NO formation. Consistent with this hypothesis, eNOS protein expression was significantly decreased (∼ 60%) in aorta isolated from Cl2–exposed versus air-exposed rats. Moreover, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNA was up-regulated in circulating leukocytes and aorta isolated 24 hours after Cl2 exposure, suggesting stimulation of inflammation in the systemic vasculature. Despite decreased eNOS expression and activity, no changes in mean arterial blood pressure were observed. However, injection of 1400W, a selective inhibitor of iNOS, increased mean arterial blood pressure only in Cl2–exposed animals, suggesting that iNOS-derived NO compensates for decreased eNOS-derived NO. These results highlight the potential for Cl2 exposure to promote postexposure systemic endothelial dysfunction via disruption of vascular NO homeostasis mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3175567  PMID: 21131444
endothelium; nitric oxide; inflammation; inhaled reactive oxidants
16.  Protection of LPS-Induced Murine Acute Lung Injury by Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Lyase Suppression 
A defining feature of acute lung injury (ALI) is the increased lung vascular permeability and alveolar flooding, which leads to associated morbidity and mortality. Specific therapies to alleviate the unremitting vascular leak in ALI are not currently clinically available; however, our prior studies indicate a protective role for sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in animal models of ALI with reductions in lung edema. As S1P levels are tightly regulated by synthesis and degradation, we tested the hypothesis that inhibition of S1P lyase (S1PL), the enzyme that irreversibly degrades S1P via cleavage, could ameliorate ALI. Intratracheal instillation of LPS to mice enhanced S1PL expression, decreased S1P levels in lung tissue, and induced lung inflammation and injury. LPS challenge of wild-type mice receiving 2-acetyl-4(5)-[1(R),2(S),3(R),4-tetrahydroxybutyl]-imidazole to inhibit S1PL or S1PL+/− mice resulted in increased S1P levels in lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids and reduced lung injury and inflammation. Moreover, down-regulation of S1PL expression by short interfering RNA (siRNA) in primary human lung microvascular endothelial cells increased S1P levels, and attenuated LPS-mediated phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and I-κB, IL-6 secretion, and endothelial barrier disruption via Rac1 activation. These results identify a novel role for intracellularly generated S1P in protection against ALI and suggest S1PL as a potential therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3175568  PMID: 21148740
intracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate; sphingosine-1-phosphate lyase; IL-6; transendothelial resistance; acute lung injury
17.  JUN-CCAAT/Enhancer-Binding Protein Complexes Inhibit Surfactant-Associated Protein B Promoter Activity 
The murine surfactant-associated protein B (Sftpb) gene promoter, spanning nucleotides −653 to +42, is composed of functionally distinct proximal and distal regions. Although both regions contain consensus/putative activator protein 1 (AP-1) sites, the distal, but not the proximal, region mediates the inhibition by jun proto-oncogene (JUN) of Sftpb promoter activity. In transient cotransfection assays, JUN inhibited the luciferase reporter activity of plasmid constructs containing Sftpb promoter fragments that lacked the distal putative AP-1 site, indicating that another regulatory motif mediates JUN-dependent inhibition. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and in silico analyses identified a DNA target sequence (Sftpb nucleotides −339 to −316) and transcription factors that regulate Sftpb promoter activity. The identified sequence contains a CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) consensus recognition element. Mutation of the site reduced Sftpb promoter activity and sensitivity to inhibition by JUN. Purified recombinant JUN, which did not recognize the −339 to −316 target sequence when added alone, supershifted the mobility of in vitro translated C/EBP-α and C/EBP-β proteins complexed with the identified cis-regulatory element. These findings support the idea that heterodimerization between JUN and C/EBP-α and/or C/EBP-β targets JUN to the Sftpb promoter, thereby mediating its inhibitory regulatory role.
PMCID: PMC3175569  PMID: 21148742
surfactant protein B; acute lung injury; gene regulation; pulmonary surfactant metabolism dysfunction type 1; pulmonary alveolar proteinosis
18.  Sox2 Activates Cell Proliferation and Differentiation in the Respiratory Epithelium 
Sox2, a transcription factor critical for the maintenance of embryonic stem cells and induction of pluripotent stem cells, is expressed exclusively in the conducting airway epithelium of the lung, where it is required for differentiation of nonciliated, goblet, and ciliated cells. To determine the role of Sox2 in respiratory epithelial cells, Sox2 was selectively and conditionally expressed in nonciliated airway epithelial cells and in alveolar type II cells in the adult mouse. Sox2 induced epithelial cell proliferation within 3 days of expression. Epithelial cell proliferation was associated with increased Ki-67 and cyclin D1 staining. Expression of cell cycle genes, including FoxM1, Ccna2 (Cyclin A2), Ccnb2 (Cyclin B2), and Ccnd1 (Cyclin D1), was increased. Consistent with a role in cell proliferation, Sox2 activated the transcription of FoxM1 in vitro. In alveoli, Sox2 caused hyperplasia and ectopic differentiation of epithelial cells to those with morphologic and molecular characteristics of conducting airway epithelium. Sox2 induced the expression of conducting airway epithelial specific genes, including Scgb1a1, Foxj1, Tubb3, and Cyp2f2. Although prolonged expression of Sox2 caused cell proliferation and epithelial hyperplasia, Sox2 did not induce pulmonary tumors. Sox2 induces proliferation of respiratory epithelial cells and, subsequently, partially reprograms alveolar epithelial cells into cells with characteristics of the conducting airways.
PMCID: PMC3145063  PMID: 20855650
lung; transcription; progenitor cell; differentiation; tumorigenesis
19.  Anti-inflammatory Effects of Thiazolidinediones in Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells 
Airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells have been reported to contribute to the inflammation of asthma. Because the thiazolidinediones (TZDs) exert anti-inflammatory effects, we examined the effects of troglitazone and rosiglitazone on the release of inflammatory moieties from cultured human ASM cells. Troglitazone dose-dependently reduced the IL-1β–induced release of IL-6 and vascular endothelial growth factor, the TNF-α–induced release of eotaxin and regulated on activation, normal T expressed and secreted (RANTES), and the IL-4–induced release of eotaxin. Rosiglitazone also inhibited the TNF-α–stimulated release of RANTES. Although TZDs are known to activate peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ (PPARγ), these anti-inflammatory effects were not affected by a specific PPARγ inhibitor (GW 9662) or by the knockdown of PPARγ using short hairpin RNA. Troglitazone and rosiglitazone each caused the activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), as detected by Western blotting using a phospho-AMPK antibody. The anti-inflammatory effects of TZDs were largely mimicked by the AMPK activators, 5-amino-4-imidazolecarboxamide ribose (AICAR) and metformin. However, the AMPK inhibitors, Ara A and Compound C, were not effective in preventing the anti-inflammatory effects of troglitazone or rosiglitzone, suggesting that the effects of these TZDs are likely not mediated through the activation of AMPK. These data indicate that TZDs inhibit the release of a variety of inflammatory mediators from human ASM cells, suggesting that they may be useful in the treatment of asthma, and the data also indicate that the effects of TZDs are not mediated by PPARγ or AMPK.
PMCID: PMC3145064  PMID: 20870897
shRNA; anti-inflammatory; PPARγ; IL-1β; TNF-α
20.  Septin-2 Mediates Airway Epithelial Barrier Function in Physiologic and Pathologic Conditions 
Epithelial cells have the ability to regulate paracellular permeability dynamically in response to extracellular stimuli. With every respiratory effort, airway epithelial cells are exposed to both physiologic as well as pathologic stimuli, and regulation of the epithelial barrier in response to these stimuli is crucial to respiratory function. We report that increased membrane septin-2 localization mediates decreases in paracellular permeability by altering cortical actin arrangement in human airway epithelial cells. This phenomenon occurs in response to both physiologic levels of shear stress and a pathologic stimulus, particular matter exposure. The resulting changes in barrier function in response to septin-2 redistribution have a significant impact on the ability of the apical ligand, epidermal growth factor, to interact with its receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor, which is segregated to the basolateral side in airway epithelial cells. This suggests that the dynamic regulation of the epithelial barrier function is essential in regulating signaling responses to extracellular stimuli. These findings indicate that septin-2 plays a fundamental role in regulating barrier function by altering cortical actin expression.
PMCID: PMC3145065  PMID: 20870893
epithelial barrier function; paracellular permeability; septin-2; actin cytoskeleton
21.  The Chemokine, CCL3, and Its Receptor, CCR1, Mediate Thoracic Radiation–Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Patients receiving thoracic radiation often develop pulmonary injury and fibrosis. Currently, there are no effective measures to prevent or treat these conditions. We tested whether blockade of the chemokine, CC chemokine ligand (CCL) 3, and its receptors, CC chemokine receptor (CCR) 1 and CCR5, can prevent radiation-induced lung inflammation and fibrosis. C57BL/6J mice received thoracic radiation, and the interaction of CCL3 with CCR1 or CCR5 was blocked using genetic techniques, or by pharmacologic intervention. Lung inflammation was assessed by histochemical staining of lung tissue and by flow cytometry. Fibrosis was measured by hydroxyproline assays and collagen staining, and lung function was studied by invasive procedures. Irradiated mice lacking CCL3 or its receptor, CCR1, did not develop the lung inflammation, fibrosis, and decline in lung function seen in irradiated wild-type mice. Pharmacologic treatment of wild-type mice with a small molecule inhibitor of CCR1 also prevented lung inflammation and fibrosis. By contrast, mice lacking CCR5 were not protected from radiation-induced injury and fibrosis. The selective interaction of CCL3 with its receptor, CCR1, is critical for radiation-induced lung inflammation and fibrosis, and these conditions can be largely prevented by a small molecule inhibitor of CCR1.
PMCID: PMC3145066  PMID: 20870892
chemokine; fibrosis; radiation; lung; inflammation
22.  Regulation and Function of the IL-1 Family Cytokine IL-1F9 in Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells 
The IL-1 family of cytokines, which now includes 11 members, is well known to participate in inflammation. Although the most recently recognized IL-1 family cytokines (IL-1F5–11) have been shown to be expressed in airway epithelial cells, the regulation of their expression and function in the epithelium has not been extensively studied. We investigated the regulation of IL-1F5–11 in primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells. Messenger (m)RNAs for IL-1F6 and IL-1F9, but not IL-1F5, IL-1F8 or IL-1F10, were significantly up-regulated by TNF, IL-1β, IL-17 and the Toll-like receptor (TLR)3 ligand double-stranded (ds)RNA. mRNAs for IL-1F7 and IL-1F11 (IL-33) were weakly up-regulated by some of the cytokines tested. Notably, mRNAs for IL-1F6 and IL-1F9 were synergistically enhanced by the combination of TNF/IL-17 or dsRNA/IL-17. IL-1F9 protein was detected in the supernatant following stimulation with dsRNA or a combination of dsRNA and IL-17. IL-1F6 protein was detected in the cell lysate but was not detected in the supernatant. We screened for the receptor for IL-1F9 and found that lung fibroblasts expressed this receptor. We found that IL-1F9 activated mitogen-activated protein kinases and the transcription factor NF-κB in primary normal human lung fibroblasts. IL-1F9 also stimulated the expression of the neutrophil chemokines IL-8 and CXCL3 and the Th17 chemokine CCL20 in lung fibroblasts. These results suggest that epithelial activation by TLR3 (e.g., by respiratory viral infection) and exposure to cytokines from Th17 cells (IL-17) and inflammatory cells (TNF) may amplify neutrophilic inflammation in the airway via induction of IL-1F9 and activation of fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3145067  PMID: 20870894
human bronchial epithelial cells; IL-1F9; human lung fibroblasts; Toll-like receptor; IL-17
23.  Epigenetic Regulation of Thy-1 by Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor in Rat Lung Fibroblasts 
Thy-1 is a cell surface glycoprotein present on normal lung fibroblasts but absent from the fibroblastic foci of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Thy-1 correlates inversely with fibrogenic phenotypic characteristics and functions as a “fibrosis suppressor.” Promoter region hypermethylation can silence Thy-1 expression in fibroblastic foci, suggesting that epigenetic regulation is important in programming the fibrotic phenotype. We examined whether histone modifications are important in regulating Thy-1 expression in lung fibroblasts. Treatment with the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) restored Thy-1 expression in Thy-1(−) cells in a time-dependent and concentration-dependent fashion and was associated with enrichment of histone acetylation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrated Thy-1 depletion of trimethylated H3K27 after 24 hours of TSA treatment, concurrent with enrichment of trimethylated H3K4 and acetylated H4. Bisulfite sequencing of the Thy-1 promoter region revealed demethylation of the previously hypermethylated CpG sites after treatment with TSA. Although Thy-1 was hypermethylated in Thy-1(−) lung fibroblasts, we observed that Thy-1(−) cells have lower global DNA methylation compared with Thy-1(+) lung fibroblasts, which was partially reversed by TSA treatment. TSA treatment up-regulates total methyltransferase activity in these cells. Our data indicate that Thy-1 silencing is regulated by histone modifications in addition to promoter hypermethylation in lung fibroblasts. Additionally, our findings indicate that alteration of histone modifications alters DNA methylation. Understanding the molecular hierarchy of events with respect to reactivation of transcription and reversal of histone modification will be critical to understand and modify the regulated expression of Thy-1, a tumor-supressor and fibrosis-suppressor gene.
PMCID: PMC3145068  PMID: 20724553
lung fibroblasts; Thy-1 expression; HDAC inhibitor; histone modification; DNA methylation
24.  C-Terminus of Heat Shock Protein 70–Interacting Protein–Dependent GTP Cyclohydrolase I Degradation in Lambs with Increased Pulmonary Blood Flow 
We showed that nitric oxide (NO) signaling is decreased in the pulmonary vasculature before the development of endothelial dysfunction in a lamb model of congenital heart disease and increased pulmonary blood flow (Shunt). The elucidation of the molecular mechanism by which this occurs was the purpose of this study. Here, we demonstrate that concentrations of the endogenous NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), are elevated, whereas the NOS cofactor tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) is decreased in Shunt lambs. Our previous studies demonstrated that ADMA decreases heat shock protein–90 (Hsp90) chaperone activity, whereas other studies suggest that guanosine-5′-triphosphate cyclohydrolase 1 (GCH1), the rate-limiting enzyme in the generation of BH4, may be a client protein for Hsp90. Thus, we determined whether increases in ADMA could alter GCH1 protein and activity. Our data demonstrate that ADMA decreased GCH1 protein, but not mRNA concentrations, in pulmonary arterial endothelial cells (PAECs) because of the ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation of GCH1. We also found that Hsp90–GCH1 interactions were reduced, whereas the association of GCH1 with Hsp70 and the C-terminus of Hsp70-interacting protein (CHIP) increased in ADMA-exposed PAECs. The overexpression of CHIP potentiated, whereas a CHIP U-box domain mutant attenuated, ADMA-induced GCH1 degradation and reductions in cellular BH4 concentrations. We also found in vivo that Hsp90/GCH1 interactions are decreased, whereas GCH1–Hsp70 and GCH1–CHIP interactions and GCH1 ubiquitination are increased. Finally, we found that supplementation with l-arginine restored Hsp90–GCH1 interactions and increased both BH4 and NOx concentrations in Shunt lambs. In conclusion, increased concentrations of ADMA can indirectly alter NO signaling through decreased cellular BH4 concentrations, secondary to the disruption of Hsp90–GCH1 interactions and the CHIP-dependent proteasomal degradation of GCH1.
PMCID: PMC3145069  PMID: 20870896
proteasome; ubiquitination; Hsp90; Hsp70; mitochondrial dysfunction
25.  Effect of Cocaine on Human Immunodeficiency Virus–Mediated Pulmonary Endothelial and Smooth Muscle Dysfunction 
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a devastating, noninfectious complication of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the majority of HIV-PAH cases occur in individuals with a history of intravenous drug use (IVDU). However, although HIV-1 and IVDU have been associated with PAH independently or in combination, the pathogenesis of the disproportionate presence of HIV-PAH in association with IVDU has yet to be characterized. The objective of this study was to obtain a better understanding of the interactions between HIV-1 and cocaine to help uncover the mechanism(s) of the development of HIV-PAH. We observed that exposure of HIV-infected macrophages or HIV-Trans-Activator of Transcription (Tat)–treated pulmonary endothelial cells to cocaine enhanced the expression of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB. Simultaneous treatment with Tat and cocaine, on the other hand, exacerbated both the disruption of tight junction proteins (TJPs), with enhanced permeability in pulmonary endothelial cells, and the proliferation of pulmonary smooth muscle cells (pSMCs) compared with either treatment alone. Histological examination of HIV plus IVDU human lung sections showed signs of early pulmonary arteriopathy, severe down-modulation of TJPs, and increased expression of PDGF-BB compared with the lung sections from individuals who are infected with HIV and without history of IVDU. Interestingly, blocking of PDGF receptor signaling with the receptor antagonist or small interfering RNA has been shown to inhibit the increase in proliferation of pSMCs on Tat and cocaine exposure. Our results, therefore, support an additive effect of cocaine to HIV infection in the development of pulmonary arteriopathy through enhancement of endothelial dysfunction and proliferation of pSMCs, while also suggesting PDGF–PDGF receptor axis as a potential target for use in clinical intervention.
PMCID: PMC3145070  PMID: 20802087
vascular remodeling; Trans-activator of transcription; platelet-derived growth factor; tight junction proteins

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