The small GTPase RhoA and its downstream effectors are critical regulators in the pathophysiological pro¬cesses of asthma. The underlying mechanism, however, remains undetermined. Here, we generated asthma mouse model with RhoA conditional knockout mice (Sftpc-cre;RhoAf/f) in type II alveolar epithelial cells (AT2) and demonstrated that AT2 cell specific deletion of RhoA leads to exacerbation of allergen-induced airway hyper-responsiveness and airway inflammation with elevated Th2 cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Notably, Sftpc-cre;RhoAf/f mice showed a significant reduction in TGF-β1 levels in BALFs and lung tissues, and administration of recombinant TGF-β1 to the mice rescued TGF-β1 and alleviated the increased allergic airway inflammation observed in Sftpc-cre;RhoAf/f mice. Using RNA-seq technology, we identified Slc26a4 (pendrin), a transmembrane anion exchange, as the most up-regulated gene in RhoA-deficient AT2 cells. The up-regulation of SLC26A4 was further confirmed in AT2 cells of asthmatic patients and mouse model and in human airway epithelial cells expressing dominant- negative RhoA (RhoA-N19). SLA26A4 was also elevated in serum from asthmatic patients and negatively associated with FEV1%. Furthermore, SLC26A4 inhibitor promoted epithelial TGF-β1 release and attenuated allergic airway inflammation. Our study reveals a previously undefined RhoA-SLC26A4 axis in AT2 cells that functions as a protective mechanism against allergic airway inflammation.
Danh C. Do, Yan Zhang, Wei Tu, Xinyue Hu, Xiaojun Xiao, Jingsi Chen, Haiping Hao, Zhigang Liu, Jing Li, Shau-Ku Huang, Mei Wan, Peisong Gao
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