Secretory mucin glycoproteins are the major macromolecular component of lung mucus, which coats and protects the respiratory tract. Mucins are hypersecreted and overproduced in lung diseases, thereby contributing to airway mucus obstruction and to disease morbidity and mortality in patients with asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. MUC5AC, a major airway mucin, is localized to goblet cells in the conducting airway epithelium and overexpressed in lung diseases. Our long term objective is to understand regulation of MUC5AC mucin gene expression at the molecular level in order to provide a better foundation for developing novel pharmaceutical agents to diminish mucin overproduction. The MUC5AC gene is regulated at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level by specific inflammatory mediators. Mechanisms of transcriptional upregulation of the MUC5AC gene expression have been studied. However, post-transcriptional mechanisms of MUC5AC gene regulation are markedly understudied, but predictably are mediated by RNA binding proteins (RBPs) and/or microRNA (miRNAs), a newly identified mechanism for post- transcriptional regulation. The inflammatory mediator IL8 stabilizes MUC5AC mRNA abundance in lung cells and regulates MUC5AC at the post-transcriptional level. In this R21 project, we will focus on defining how the IL8-induced post-transcriptional regulation of MUC5AC gene expression is mediated by interactions induced by binding of RBPs, specifically PTB1 and candidate RBPs, and of Let-7 miRNA to target sequences in the 3'UTR of the MUC5AC mRNA. We will investigate mechanisms underlying these events in differentiated human bronchial epithelial cells and in the A549 lung cell line.
In Aim 1 we will functionally evaluate the role of PTB1 in the IL8-induced stability of MUC5AC and identify and study additional candidate RBPs to determine whether they bind to cognate cis-sequences in the 3'UTR of MUC5AC after IL8 exposure to increase MUC5AC mRNA stability.
In Aim 2 we will determine whether a Let-7 miRNA/micro-ribonucleprotein (mRNP) complex targets the 3'UTR of MUC5AC mRNA and recruits other miRNP to increase the stability of the MUC5AC transcript. This project will lay the groundwork to identify molecular mechanisms that regulate the stability of the MUC5AC transcript by inflammatory mediators to sustain mucin overproduction and hypersecretion during inflammation.

Public Health Relevance

Secretory mucins are large, viscoelastic glycoproteins that are overproduced and hypersecreted in lung diseases. They contribute to airway mucus obstruction and to disease morbidity and mortality in patients with asthma, cystic fibrosis, and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. MUC5AC is a predominant lung mucin and the MUC5AC gene is regulated by inflammatory mediators present in the lung secretions of patients. This project will investigate how the inflammatory mediator, IL8, mediates MUC5AC gene expression at the post-transcriptional level to increase MUC5AC stability and thus sustain MUC5AC production in lung cells during inflammatory states. Understanding the mechanisms whereby MUC5AC mRNA expression is stabilized by cellular factors following exposure to inflammatory factors will be important for understanding how mucin production is sustained n diseased airways. This will be fundamental for formulating therapeutic interventions for lung diseases that manifest with mucin overproduction.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Lung Cellular, Molecular, and Immunobiology Study Section (LCMI)
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Togias, Alkis
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Children's Research Institute
United States
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Wu, Xiaofang; Mimms, Remy; Lima, Roberta et al. (2012) Localization of inflammatory mediators in pediatric sinus mucosa. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 138:389-97
Kreda, Silvia M; Davis, C William; Rose, Mary Callaghan (2012) CFTR, mucins, and mucus obstruction in cystic fibrosis. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2:a009589