Although the expression of Mex3 RNA-binding family member B (MEX3B) is upregulated in human nasal epithelial cells (HNECs) predominately in the eosinophilic chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) subtype, its functions as an RNA binding protein in airway epithelial cells remain unknown. Here, we revealed the role of MEX3B based on different subtypes of CRS and demonstrated that MEX3B decreased the TGF-β receptor III (TGFBR3) mRNA level by binding to its 3′ UTR and reducing its stability in HNECs. TGF-βR3 was found to be a TGF-β2–specific coreceptor in HNECs. Knocking down or overexpressing MEX3B promoted or inhibited TGF-β2–induced phosphorylation of SMAD2 in HNECs, respectively. TGF-βR3 and phosphorylated SMAD2 levels were downregulated in CRSwNP compared with controls and CRS without nasal polyps with a more prominent downregulation in the eosinophilic CRSwNP. TGF-β2 promoted collagen production in HNECs. Collagen abundance decreased and edema scores increased in CRSwNP compared with control, again more prominently in the eosinophilic type. Collagen expression in eosinophilic CRSwNP was negatively correlated with MEX3B but positively correlated with TGF-βR3. These results suggest that MEX3B inhibits tissue fibrosis in eosinophilic CRSwNP by downregulating epithelial cell TGFBR3 expression; consequently, MEX3B might be a valuable therapeutic target against eosinophilic CRSwNP.
Jin-Xin Liu, Ao-Nan Chen, Qihong Yu, Ke-Tai Shi, Yi-Bo Liu, Cui-Lian Guo, Zhe-Zheng Wang, Yin Yao, Li Pan, Xiang Lu, Kai Xu, Heng Wang, Ming Zeng, Chaohong Liu, Robert P. Schleimer, Ning Wu, Bo Liao, Zheng Liu