The long-term goal of this project is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to the structural changes associated with chronic bronchitis. This application continues our focus on oxidative stress-induced EGFR activation and mucus hypersecretion. During the current funding period we have confirmed the hypothesis of the original application, that reactive oxygen species (ROS) induce hyaluronan depolymerization releasing active bronchial TK that, in turn, results in pro-EGF processing, EGFR activation and downstream signaling that ultimately results in mucus cell proliferation and increased mucin secretion. However, in airway epithelial cells, EGFR is topologically separated from its ligands by apical junctional complexes (AJP): ligands are expressed in the apical membrane while receptors are predominantly localized to the basolateral membrane. The physical separation of growth factors from their receptors suggests that a regulated mechanism must exist that allows ligand-receptor interaction to occur only under certain conditions in which AJCs """"""""grant"""""""" access to the basolateral side. We have found that oxidant-induced epithelial AJC junction disruption is mediated by RON, a tyrosine kinase receptor that is uniquely localized at the apical membrane of airway epithelia. The ligand for RON is the HGF-like macrophage stimulating protein (MSP), that is secreted as an inactive precursor that needs to be proteolytically cleaved to stimulate RON by a protease that, in the airways, is tissue kallikrein (TK). TK is present at the apical surface of airway epithelial cells, where it is bound and inactivated by hyaluronan (HA). ROS induced-HA depolymerization results in the release of active TK, a mechanism by which pro-MSP could be activated and thereby signal through its apical membrane receptor RON to disrupt AJC integrity allowing EGFR-ligand interaction and signaling. We will test the hypothesis that increased apical availability of active TK during oxidative stress is responsible for AJC disruption by activating pro-MSP and RON signaling, thereby allowing EGF receptor-ligand interaction, which ultimately results in airway mucous cell metaplasia and hypersecretion. This will be tested with the following aims:
Aim 1 will test the hypothesis that TK, released from epithelial-bound HA by ROS, processes inactive pro-MSP to active MSP that binds and signals through RON to initiate epithelial AJC disruption (test of concept).
Aim 2 will test the hypothesis that MSP-RON-dependent AJC disruption allows EGF-EGFR interaction that ultimately results in goblet cell proliferation and mucus hypersecretion (proof of concept).
Aim 3 will test whether these mechanisms are operative in vivo in patients with chronic bronchitis (relevance of concept in airway epithelium). These studies will advance our knowledge on the mechanisms that lead to mucus hypersecretion and likely provide new tools for the prevention or/and treatment of chronic airway diseases, particularly cigarette smoke- induced chronic bronchitis.

Public Health Relevance

. Chronic bronchitis is an invalidating disease characterized chronic cough and frequent respiratory infections and results in frequent hospitalizations and poor quality of life. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is exposure to cigarette smoke. We propose to use cells obtained from lung donors suffering from chronic bronchitis in combination with state of the art techniques to understand why mucous hypersecretion occurs and how can we intervene to prevent the disease or the progression of the disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Lung Cellular, Molecular, and Immunobiology Study Section (LCMI)
Program Officer
Punturieri, Antonello
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Miami School of Medicine
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Coral Gables
United States
Zip Code
Bhagat, Rajesh; Forteza, Rosanna M; Calcote, Clay B et al. (2012) Pulmonary emboli from therapeutic sodium hyaluronate. Respir Care 57:1670-3
Forteza, Rosanna Malbran; Casalino-Matsuda, S Marina; Falcon, Nieves S et al. (2012) Hyaluronan and layilin mediate loss of airway epithelial barrier function induced by cigarette smoke by decreasing E-cadherin. J Biol Chem 287:42288-98
Monzon, Maria E; Forteza, Rosanna Malbran; Casalino-Matsuda, S Marina (2011) MCP-1/CCR2B-dependent loop upregulates MUC5AC and MUC5B in human airway epithelium. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 300:L204-15
Monzon, Maria E; Fregien, Nevis; Schmid, Nathalie et al. (2010) Reactive oxygen species and hyaluronidase 2 regulate airway epithelial hyaluronan fragmentation. J Biol Chem 285:26126-34
Casalino-Matsuda, S Marina; Monzon, Maria E; Day, Anthony J et al. (2009) Hyaluronan fragments/CD44 mediate oxidative stress-induced MUC5B up-regulation in airway epithelium. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 40:277-85
Monzon, Maria Elena; Manzanares, Dahis; Schmid, Nathalie et al. (2008) Hyaluronidase expression and activity is regulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines in human airway epithelial cells. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 39:289-95
Forteza, Rosanna; Casalino-Matsuda, Susana M; Monzon, Maria Elena et al. (2007) TSG-6 potentiates the antitissue kallikrein activity of inter-alpha-inhibitor through bikunin release. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 36:20-31
Monzon, Maria E; Casalino-Matsuda, Susana M; Forteza, Rosanna M (2006) Identification of glycosaminoglycans in human airway secretions. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 34:135-41
Casalino-Matsuda, S Marina; Monzon, Maria E; Forteza, Rosanna M (2006) Epidermal growth factor receptor activation by epidermal growth factor mediates oxidant-induced goblet cell metaplasia in human airway epithelium. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 34:581-91
Fragoso, Miryam A; Fernandez, Vania; Forteza, Rosanna et al. (2004) Transcellular thiocyanate transport by human airway epithelia. J Physiol 561:183-94

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications