Increased Expression of RhoA in Epithelium and Smooth Muscle of Obese Mouse Models: Implications for Isoprenoid Control of Airway Smooth Muscle and Fibroblasts

Ross KR1, Darrah RJ, Hodges CA, Lang L, Kelley TJ.
Source: Journal of Allergy
Publication Date: (2013)
Issue: 2013: 740973
Research Area:
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
Fibroblast, lung, human normal (NHLF)
Species: human
Tissue Origin: lung
96-well Shuttle™ System
The simultaneous rise in the prevalence of asthma and obesity has prompted epidemiologic studies that establish obesity as a risk factor for asthma. The alterations in cell signaling that explain this link are not well understood and warrant investigation so that therapies that target this asthma phenotype can be developed. We identified a significant increase in expression of the small GTPase RhoA in nasal epithelial cells and tracheal smooth muscle cells from leptin-deficient (ob/ob) mice compared to their wild-type counterparts. Since RhoA function is dependent on isoprenoid modification, we sought to determine the role of isoprenoid-mediated signaling in regulating the viability and proliferation of human airway smooth muscle cells (ASM) and normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF). Inhibiting isoprenoid signaling with mevastatin significantly decreased the viability of ASM and NHLF. This inhibition was reversed by geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), but not farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP), suggesting specificity to the Rho GTPases. Conversely, increasing isoprenoid synthesis significantly increased ASM proliferation and RhoA protein expression. RhoA expression is inherently increased in airway tissue from ob/ob mice, and obesity-entrained alterations in this pathway may make it a novel therapeutic target for treating airway disease in the obese population.