Abnormal airway smooth muscle function can contribute to cystic fibrosis (CF) airway disease. We previously found that airway smooth muscle from newborn CF pigs had increased basal tone, an increased bronchodilator response, and abnormal calcium handling. Since CF pigs lack airway infection and inflammation at birth, these findings suggest intrinsic airway smooth muscle dysfunction in CF. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that CFTR loss in airway smooth muscle would produce a distinct set of changes in the airway smooth muscle transcriptome that we could use to develop novel therapeutic targets. Total RNA sequencing of newborn wild-type and CF airway smooth muscle revealed changes in muscle contraction–related genes, ontologies, and pathways. Using connectivity mapping, we identified several small molecules that elicit transcriptional signatures opposite of CF airway smooth muscle, including NVP-TAE684, an inhibitor of proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (PYK2). In CF airway smooth muscle tissue, PYK2 phosphorylation was increased and PYK2 inhibition decreased smooth muscle contraction. In vivo NVP-TAE684 treatment of wild-type mice reduced methacholine-induced airway smooth muscle contraction. These findings suggest that studies in the newborn CF pig may provide an important approach to enhance our understanding of airway smooth muscle biology and for discovery of novel airway smooth muscle therapeutics for CF and other diseases of airway hyperreactivity.


Daniel P. Cook, Ryan J. Adam, Keyan Zarei, Benjamin Deonovic, Mallory R. Stroik, Nicholas D. Gansemer, David K. Meyerholz, Kin Fai Au, David A. Stoltz


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