Airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells play a critical role in the pathophysiology of asthma due to their hypercontractility and their ability to proliferate and secrete inflammatory mediators. microRNAs (miRNAs) are gene regulators that control many signaling pathways and thus serve as potential therapeutic alternatives for many diseases. We have previously shown that miR-708 and miR-140-3p regulate the MAPK and PI3K signaling pathways in human ASM (HASM) cells following TNF-α exposure. In this study, we investigated the regulatory effect of these miRNAs on other asthma-related genes. Microarray analysis using the Illumina platform was performed with total RNA extracted from miR-708 (or control miR)-transfected HASM cells. Inhibition of candidate inflammation-associated gene expression was further validated by qPCR and ELISA. The most significant biologic functions for the differentially expressed gene set included decreased inflammatory response, cytokine expression and signaling. qPCR revealed inhibition of expression of CCL11, CXCL10, CCL2 and CXCL8, while the release of CCL11 was inhibited in miR-708-transfected cells. Transfection of cells with miR-140-3p resulted in inhibition of expression of CCL11, CXCL12, CXCL10, CCL5 and CXCL8 and of TNF-a-induced CXCL12 release. In addition, expression of RARRES2, CD44 and ADAM33, genes known to contribute to the pathophysiology of asthma, were found to be inhibited in miR-708-transfected cells. These results demonstrate that miR-708 and miR-140-3p exert distinct effects on inflammation-associated gene expression and biological function of ASM cells. Targeting these miRNA networks may provide a novel therapeutic mechanism to down-regulate airway inflammation and ASM proliferation in asthma.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: RAP received funding from the National Institutes of Health (Grant Numbers: P01-HL114471 and P30-ES013508 to RAP).