TMEM16A mediates the hypersecretion of mucus induced by Interleukin-13

Exp Cell Res. 2015 Jun 10;334(2):260-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2015.02.026. Epub 2015 Mar 10.


Previous studies showed that the Ca(2+)-activated Cl(-) channel (CaCC) was involved in the pathogenesis of mucus hypersecretion induced by Interleukin-13 (IL-13). However, the mechanisms underlying the process were unknown. Recently, transmembrane protein 16A (TMEM16A) was identified as the channel underlying the CaCC current. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether the TMEM16A channel is part of the mechanism underlying IL-13-induced mucus hypersecretion. We observed that both TMEM16A mRNA and protein expression were significantly up-regulated after treatment with IL-13 in human bronchial epithelial 16 (HBE 16) cells, which correlated with an increase in mucus production. Additionally, mucus hypersecretion in rat airways was induced by intratracheal instillation of IL-13 and similar increases were observed in the expression of TMEM16A mRNA and protein in the bronchial epithelium. Niflumic acid (NA), a selective antagonist of CaCC, markedly blocked IL-13-induced mucin (MUC) 5AC mRNA and protein production in vivo and in vitro. Further investigation with HBE16 cells revealed that TMEM16A overexpression clearly promoted mucus production, IκBα phosphorylation, and p65 accumulation in the nucleus. The loss of TMEM16A resulted in inhibition of mucus production, and the TMEM16A-mediated production of MUC5AC was significantly blocked by a nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) inhibitor. Therefore, the TMEM16A channel acts upstream of NF-κB in the regulation of mucus production. This is the first demonstration that the TMEM16A-NF-κB pathway is positively involved in IL-13-induced mucus production, which provides novel insight into the molecular mechanism of mucin overproduction.

Keywords: Interleukin-13; MUC5AC; Nuclear factor-kappa B; TMEM16A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anoctamin-1
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chloride Channels / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-13 / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • ANO1 protein, human
  • Anoctamin-1
  • Chloride Channels
  • Interleukin-13
  • NF-kappa B
  • Neoplasm Proteins