Airway smooth muscle (ASM) remodeling is a key feature in asthma and includes changes in smooth muscle-specific gene and protein expression. Despite this being a major contributor to asthma pathobiology, our understanding of the mechanisms governing ASM remodeling remains poor. Here, we studied the functional interaction between WNT-11 and TGF-β1 in ASM cells. We demonstrate that WNT-11 is preferentially expressed in contractile myocytes and is strongly upregulated following TGF-β1-induced myocyte maturation. Knock-down of WNT-11 attenuated TGF-β1-induced smooth muscle (sm)-α-actin expression in ASM cells. We demonstrate that TGF-β1-induced sm-α-actin expression is mediated by WNT-11 via RhoA activation and subsequent actin cytoskeletal remodeling, as pharmacological inhibition of either Rho kinase by Y27632 or actin remodeling by latrunculin A attenuated sm-α-actin induction. Moreover, we show that TGF-β1 regulates the nuclear expression of myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTF-A) in a Rho kinase-dependent fashion, which in turn, mediates sm-α-actin expression. Finally, we demonstrate that TGF-β1-induced MRTF-A nuclear translocation is dependent on endogenous WNT-11. The present study, thus, demonstrates a WNT-11-dependent Rho kinase-actin-MRTF-A signaling axis that regulates the expression of sm-α-actin in ASM cells.
- airway smooth muscle
- Copyright © 2015, American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology