[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The molecular origins of fibrosis affecting multiple tissue beds remain incompletely defined. Previously, we delineated the critical role of the control of extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffening by the mechanosensitive microRNA-130/301 family, as activated by the YAP/TAZ co-transcription factors, in promoting pulmonary hypertension (PH). We hypothesized that similar mechanisms may dictate fibrosis in other tissue beds beyond the pulmonary vasculature. Employing an in silico combination of microRNA target prediction, transcriptomic analysis of 137 human diseases and physiologic states, and advanced gene network modeling, we predicted the microRNA-130/301 family as a master regulator of fibrotic pathways across a cohort of seemingly disparate diseases and conditions. In two such diseases (pulmonary fibrosis and liver fibrosis), inhibition of microRNA-130/301 prevented the induction of ECM modification, YAP/TAZ, and downstream tissue fibrosis. Thus, mechanical forces act through a central feedback circuit between microRNA-130/301 and YAP/TAZ to sustain a common fibrotic phenotype across a network of human physiologic and pathophysiologic states. Such re-conceptualization of interconnections based on shared systems of disease and non-disease gene networks may have broad implications for future convergent diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Scientific Reports
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a deadly vascular disease with enigmatic molecular origins. We found that vascular extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and stiffening are early and pervasive processes that promote PH. In multiple pulmonary vascular cell types, such ECM stiffening induced the microRNA-130/301 family via activation of the co-transcription factors YAP and TAZ. MicroRNA-130/301 controlled a PPAR?-APOE-LRP8 axis, promoting collagen deposition and LOX-dependent remodeling and further upregulating YAP/TAZ via a mechanoactive feedback loop. In turn, ECM remodeling controlled pulmonary vascular cell crosstalk via such mechanotransduction, modulation of secreted vasoactive effectors, and regulation of associated microRNA pathways. In vivo, pharmacologic inhibition of microRNA-130/301, APOE, or LOX activity ameliorated ECM remodeling and PH. Thus, ECM remodeling, as controlled by the YAP/TAZ-miR-130/301 feedback circuit, is an early PH trigger and offers combinatorial therapeutic targets for this devastating disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Development of the vascular disease pulmonary hypertension (PH) involves disparate molecular pathways that span multiple cell types. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) may coordinately regulate PH progression, but the integrative functions of miRNAs in this process have been challenging to define with conventional approaches. Here, analysis of the molecular network architecture specific to PH predicted that the miR-130/301 family is a master regulator of cellular proliferation in PH via regulation of subordinate miRNA pathways with unexpected connections to one another. In validation of this model, diseased pulmonary vessels and plasma from mammalian models and human PH subjects exhibited upregulation of miR-130/301 expression. Evaluation of pulmonary arterial endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells revealed that miR-130/301 targeted PPARγ with distinct consequences. In endothelial cells, miR-130/301 modulated apelin-miR-424/503-FGF2 signaling, while in smooth muscle cells, miR-130/301 modulated STAT3-miR-204 signaling to promote PH-associated phenotypes. In murine models, induction of miR-130/301 promoted pathogenic PH-associated effects, while miR-103/301 inhibition prevented PH pathogenesis. Together, these results provide insight into the systems-level regulation of miRNA-disease gene networks in PH with broad implications for miRNA-based therapeutics in this disease. Furthermore, these findings provide critical validation for the evolving application of network theory to the discovery of the miRNA-based origins of PH and other diseases.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Journal of Clinical Investigation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involves aberrant airway inflammatory responses to cigarette smoke (CS) that are associated with epithelial cell dysfunction, cilia shortening, and mucociliary clearance disruption. Exposure to CS reduced cilia length and induced autophagy in vivo and in differentiated mouse tracheal epithelial cells (MTECs). Autophagy-impaired (Becn1+/- or Map1lc3B-/-) mice and MTECs resisted CS-induced cilia shortening. Furthermore, CS increased the autophagic turnover of ciliary proteins, indicating that autophagy may regulate cilia homeostasis. We identified cytosolic deacetylase HDAC6 as a critical regulator of autophagy-mediated cilia shortening during CS exposure. Mice bearing an X chromosome deletion of Hdac6 (Hdac6-/Y) and MTECs from these mice had reduced autophagy and were protected from CS-induced cilia shortening. Autophagy-impaired Becn1-/-, Map1lc3B-/-, and Hdac6-/Y mice or mice injected with an HDAC6 inhibitor were protected from CS-induced mucociliary clearance (MCC) disruption. MCC was preserved in mice given the chemical chaperone 4-phenylbutyric acid, but was disrupted in mice lacking the transcription factor NRF2, suggesting that oxidative stress and altered proteostasis contribute to the disruption of MCC. Analysis of human COPD specimens revealed epigenetic deregulation of HDAC6 by hypomethylation and increased protein expression in the airways. We conclude that an autophagy-dependent pathway regulates cilia length during CS exposure and has potential as a therapeutic target for COPD.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · The Journal of clinical investigation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality. However, the mechanisms underlying adverse birth outcomes following prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke remain unknown due, in part, to the absence or unreliability of information regarding maternal cigarette smoke exposure during pregnancy. Our goal was to determine if placental cotinine could be a reliable biomarker of fetal cigarette smoke exposure during pregnancy. Cotinine levels were determined in placentas from 47 women who reported smoking during pregnancy and 10 from women who denied cigarette smoke exposure. Cotinine levels were significantly higher in placentas from women reporting cigarette smoking (median=27.2 ng/g) versus women who reported no smoke exposure (2.3 ng/g, P<0.001). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis identified an optimal cut point of 7.5 ng/g (sensitivity=78.7%, specificity=100%) to classify placenta samples from mothers who smoked from those who did not. Among 415 placentas for which maternal cigarette smoking status was unavailable, 167 had cotinine levels >7.5 ng/g and would be considered positive for cigarette smoke exposure. Data from quantitative RT-PCR analyses demonstrated that in utero cigarette smoke exposure predicted by cotinine in placenta is associated with changes in the expression of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes in fetal tissues. CYP1A1 mRNA in fetal lung and liver and CYP1B1 in fetal lung were significantly induced when cotinine was detected in placenta. These findings indicate that cotinine in placenta is a reliable biomarker for fetal exposure and response to maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy.
Preview · Article · Dec 2012 · Drug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal smoking is a risk factor for pediatric lung disease, including asthma. Animal models suggest that maternal smoking causes defective alveolarization in the offspring. Retinoic acid signaling modulates both lung development and postnatal immune function. Thus, abnormalities in this pathway could mediate maternal smoking effects. We tested whether maternal smoking disrupts retinoic acid pathway expression and functioning in a murine model.
Female C57Bl/6 mice with/without mainstream cigarette smoke exposure (3 research cigarettes a day, 5 days a week) were mated to nonsmoking males. Cigarette smoke exposure continued throughout the pregnancy and after parturition. Lung tissue from the offspring was examined by mean linear intercept analysis and by quantitative PCR. Cell culture experiments using the type II cell-like cell line, A549, tested whether lipid-soluble cigarette smoke components affected binding and activation of retinoic acid response elements in vitro.
Compared to tobacco-naïve mice, juvenile mice with tobacco toxin exposure had significantly (P < 0.05) increased mean linear intercepts, consistent with an alveolarization defect. Tobacco toxin exposure significantly (P < 0.05) decreased mRNA and protein expression of retinoic acid signaling pathway elements, including retinoic acid receptor alpha and retinoic acid receptor beta, with the greatest number of changes observed between postnatal days 3-5. Lipid-soluble cigarette smoke components significantly (P < 0.05) decreased retinoic acid-induced binding and activation of the retinoic acid receptor response element in A549 cells.
A murine model of maternal cigarette smoking causes abnormal alveolarization in association with altered retinoic acid pathway element expression in the offspring. An in vitro cell culture model shows that lipid-soluble components of cigarette smoke decrease retinoic acid response element activation. It is feasible that disruption of retinoic acid signaling contributes to the pediatric lung dysfunction caused by maternal smoking.
Preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Respiratory research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is driven by diverse pathogenic etiologies. Owing to their pleiotropic actions, microRNA molecules are potential candidates for coordinated regulation of these disease stimuli.
Using a network biology approach, we identify microRNA associated with multiple pathogenic pathways central to PH. Specifically, microRNA-21 (miR-21) is predicted as a PH-modifying microRNA, regulating targets integral to bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and Rho/Rho-kinase signaling as well as functional pathways associated with hypoxia, inflammation, and genetic haploinsufficiency of BMP receptor type 2. To validate these predictions, we have found that hypoxia and BMP receptor type 2 signaling independently upregulate miR-21 in cultured pulmonary arterial endothelial cells. In a reciprocal feedback loop, miR-21 downregulates BMP receptor type 2 expression. Furthermore, miR-21 directly represses RhoB expression and Rho-kinase activity, inducing molecular changes consistent with decreased angiogenesis and vasodilation. In vivo, miR-21 is upregulated in pulmonary tissue from several rodent models of PH and in humans with PH. On induction of disease in miR-21-null mice, RhoB expression and Rho-kinase activity are increased, accompanied by exaggerated manifestations of PH.
A network-based bioinformatic approach coupled with confirmatory in vivo data delineates a central regulatory role for miR-21 in PH. Furthermore, this study highlights the unique utility of network biology for identifying disease-modifying microRNA in PH.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intrauterine smoke exposure (IUS) is a strong risk factor for development of airways responsiveness and asthma in childhood. Runt-related transcription factors (RUNX1-3) have critical roles in immune system development and function. We hypothesized that genetic variations in RUNX1 would be associated with airway responsiveness in asthmatic children and that this association would be modified by IUS. Family-based association testing analysis in the Childhood Asthma Management Program genome-wide genotype data showed that 17 of 100 RUNX1 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were significantly (P < 0.03-0.04) associated with methacholine responsiveness. The association between methacholine responsiveness and one of the SNPs was significantly modified by a history of IUS exposure. Quantitative PCR analysis of immature human lung tissue with and without IUS suggested that IUS increased RUNX1 expression at the pseudoglandular stage of lung development. We examined these associations by subjecting murine neonatal lung tissue with and without IUS to quantitative PCR (N = 4-14 per group). Our murine model showed that IUS decreased RUNX expression at postnatal days (P)3 and P5 (P < 0.05). We conclude that 1) SNPs in RUNX1 are associated with airway responsiveness in asthmatic children and these associations are modified by IUS exposure, 2) IUS tended to increase the expression of RUNX1 in early human development, and 3) a murine IUS model showed that the effects of developmental cigarette smoke exposure persisted for at least 2 wk after birth. We speculate that IUS exposure-altered expression of RUNX transcription factors increases the risk of asthma in children with IUS exposure.
No preview · Article · Jul 2011 · AJP Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although progenitor cells have been described in distinct anatomical regions of the lung, description of resident stem cells has remained elusive.
Surgical lung-tissue specimens were studied in situ to identify and characterize human lung stem cells. We defined their phenotype and functional properties in vitro and in vivo.
Human lungs contain undifferentiated human lung stem cells nested in niches in the distal airways. These cells are self-renewing, clonogenic, and multipotent in vitro. After injection into damaged mouse lung in vivo, human lung stem cells form human bronchioles, alveoli, and pulmonary vessels integrated structurally and functionally with the damaged organ. The formation of a chimeric lung was confirmed by detection of human transcripts for epithelial and vascular genes. In addition, the self-renewal and long-term proliferation of human lung stem cells was shown in serial-transplantation assays.
Human lungs contain identifiable stem cells. In animal models, these cells participate in tissue homeostasis and regeneration. They have the undemonstrated potential to promote tissue restoration in patients with lung disease. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health.).
Full-text · Article · May 2011 · New England Journal of Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ontogeny of the C-C chemokines eotaxin-1, eotaxin-2, and eotaxin-3 has not been fully elucidated in human lung. We explored a possible role for eotaxin in developing lung by determining the ontogeny of eotaxin-1 (CCL11), eotaxin-2 (CCL24), eotaxin-3 (CCL26), and the eotaxin receptor, CCR3. We tested discarded surgical samples of developing human lung tissue using quantitative RT-PCR (QRT-PCR) and immunostaining for expression of CCL11, CCL24, CCL26, and CCR3. We assessed possible functionality of the eotaxin-CCR3 system by treating lung explant cultures with exogenous CCL11 and analyzing the cultures for evidence of changes in proliferation and activation of ERK1/2, a signaling pathway associated with CCR3. QRT-PCR analyses of 22 developing lung tissue samples with gestational ages 10-23 wk demonstrated that eotaxin-1 mRNA is most abundant in developing lung, whereas mRNAs for eotaxin-2 and eotaxin-3 are minimally detectable. CCL11 mRNA levels correlated with gestational age (P < 0.05), and immunoreactivity was localized predominantly to airway epithelial cells. QRT-PCR analysis detected CCR3 expression in 16 of 19 developing lung samples. Supporting functional capacity in the immature lung, CCL11 treatment of lung explant cultures resulted in significantly increased (P < 0.05) cell proliferation and activation of the ERK signaling pathway, which is downstream from CCR3, suggesting that proliferation was due to activation of CCR3 receptors by CCL11. We conclude that developing lung expresses the eotaxins and functional CCR3 receptor. CCL11 may promote airway epithelial proliferation in the developing lung.
No preview · Article · Feb 2008 · AJP Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The highly branched mammalian lung relies on surfactant, a mixture of phospholipids, cholesterol, and hydrophobic proteins, to reduce intraalveolar surface tension and prevent lung collapse. Human mutations in the ABCA3 transporter have been associated with childhood respiratory disease of variable severity and onset. Here, we report the generation of Abca3 null mice, which became lethargic and cyanotic and died within 1 h of birth. Tissue blots found ABCA3 expression was highest in lung but was also detectable in other tissues, including the kidney. Gross development of kidney and lung was normal in neonatal Abca3(-/-) pups, but the mice failed to inflate their lungs, leading to death from atelectatic respiratory failure. Ultrastructural analysis of the Abca3(-/-) lungs revealed an absence of surfactant from the alveolar space and a profound loss of mature lamellar bodies, the intracellular storage organelle for surfactant. Mass spectrometry measurement of >300 phospholipids in lung tissue taken from Abca3(-/-) mice showed a dramatic reduction of phosphatidylglycerol (PG) levels as well as selective reductions in phosphatidylcholine species containing short acyl chains. These results establish a requirement of ABCA3 for lamellar body formation and pulmonary surfactant secretion and suggest a unique and critical role for the transporter in the metabolism of pulmonary PG. They also demonstrate the utility of the Abca3 null mouse as a model for a devastating human disease.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2007 · The Journal of Lipid Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protectins are newly identified natural chemical mediators that counter leukocyte activation to promote resolution of inflammation. In this study, we provide the first evidence for protectin D1 (PD1, 10R,17S-dihydroxy-docosa-4Z,7Z,11E,13E,15Z,19Z-hexaenoic acid) formation from docosahexaenoic acid in human asthma in vivo and PD1 counterregulatory actions in allergic airway inflammation. PD1 and 17S-hydroxy-docosahexaenoic acid were present in exhaled breath condensates from healthy subjects. Of interest, levels of PD1 were significantly lower in exhaled breath condensates from subjects with asthma exacerbations. PD1 was also present in extracts of murine lungs from both control animals and those sensitized and aerosol challenged with allergen. When PD1 was administered before aeroallergen challenge, airway eosinophil and T lymphocyte recruitment were decreased, as were airway mucus, levels of specific proinflammatory mediators, including IL-13, cysteinyl leukotrienes, and PGD(2), and airway hyperresponsiveness to inhaled methacholine. Of interest, PD1 treatment after aeroallergen challenge markedly accelerated the resolution of airway inflammation. Together, these findings provide evidence for endogenous PD1 as a pivotal counterregulatory signal in allergic airway inflammation and point to new therapeutic strategies for modulating inflammation in asthmatic lung.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · The Journal of Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: cAMP signaling is postulated to play a role in distal lung epithelial differentiation based on several observations. First, it enhances fibroblast growth factor-induced transdifferentiation of early tracheal epithelium into respiratory epithelium. Second, there are cAMP-responsive elements in the heterologous promoters of Sftpb and Sftpa genes. Third, cAMP augments the effect of dexamethasone in maintaining differentiation of human fetal type II pneumocyte culture. However, this concept has not been thoroughly tested in vivo. In the current study, we modulated cAMP signaling in developing distal lung epithelium in vivo using an inducible transgenic system that expressed a mutant form of Galpha(s) (Galpha(s)Q227L). We failed to demonstrate the ability of cAMP to promote distal epithelial maturation during embryonic stages. The results argue against its physiological role in this process. In addition, induction of cAMP signaling at the late pseudoglandular stage but not during the canalicular or saccular stage surprisingly delayed distal differentiation by suppressing the expression of Sftpc, Sftpa, and Aquaporin5 as well as the formation of lamellar bodies. This stage-specific inhibitory effect was observed in the absence of cellular toxicity or changes in branching. Transgenic lungs did not show significant changes in the known pathways that are important for distal differentiation. Therefore, we propose the existence of yet-to-be identified cAMP-sensitive novel regulators of early distal lung epithelial differentiation. Although the delay of differentiation seemed to be reversible at later stages, it still led to pronounced permanent postnatal airspace enlargement due to impaired paracrine function of distal epithelium in regulating alveolar myofibroblast development.
Preview · Article · Jan 2007 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mechanical stimulation of the airway epithelium, as would occur during bronchoconstriction, is a potent stimulus and can activate profibrotic pathways. We used DNA microarray technology to examine gene expression in compressed normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE). Compressive stress applied continuously over an 8-h period to NHBE cells led to the upregulation of several families of genes, including a family of plasminogen-related genes that were previously not known to be regulated in this system. Real-time PCR demonstrated a peak increase in gene expression of 8.0-fold for urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), 16.2-fold for urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), 4.2-fold for plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), and 3.9-fold for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Compressive stress also increased uPA protein levels in the cell lysates (112.0 versus 82.0 ng/ml, P = 0.0004), and increased uPA (4.7 versus 3.3 ng/ml, P = 0.02), uPAR (1.3 versus 0.86 ng/ml, P = 0.007), and PAI-1 (50 versus 36 ng/ml, P = 0.006) protein levels in cell culture media. Functional studies demonstrated increased urokinase-dependent plasmin generation in compression-stimulated cells (0.0090 versus 0.0033 OD/min, P = 0.03). In addition, compression led to increased activation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 and MMP-2 in a urokinase-dependent manner. In postmortem human lung tissue, we observed an increase in epithelial uPA and uPAR immunostaining in the airways of two patients who died in status asthmaticus compared with minimal immunoreactivity noted in airways from seven lung donors without asthma. Together these observations suggest an integrated response of airway epithelial cells to mechanical stimulation, acting through the plasminogen-activating system to modify the airway microenvironment.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2007 · American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology