RNA sequencing and pathway analysis identify tumor necrosis factor alpha driven small proline-rich protein dysregulation in chronic rhinosinusitis

Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2017 Sep 1;31(5):283-288. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2017.31.4457.


Background: Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a heterogeneous inflammatory disorder in which many pathways contribute to end-organ disease. Small proline-rich proteins (SPRR) are polypeptides that have recently been shown to contribute to epithelial biomechanical properties relevant in T-helper type 2 inflammation. There is evidence that genetic polymorphism in SPRR genes may predict the development of asthma in children with atopy and, correlatively, that expression of SPRRs is increased under allergic conditions, which leads to epithelial barrier dysfunction in atopic disease.

Methods: RNAs from uncinate tissue specimens from patients with CRS and control subjects were compared by RNA sequencing by using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (n = 4 each), and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (n = 15). A separate cohort of archived sinus tissue was examined by immunohistochemistry (n = 19).

Results: A statistically significant increase of SPRR expression in CRS sinus tissue was identified that was not a result of atopic presence. SPRR1 and SPRR2A expressions were markedly increased in patients with CRS (p < 0.01) on RNA sequencing, with confirmation by using real-time PCR. Immunohistochemistry of archived surgical samples demonstrated staining of SPRR proteins within squamous epithelium of both groups. Pathway analysis indicated tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha as a master regulator of the SPRR gene products.

Conclusion: Expression of SPRR1 and of SPRR2A is increased in mucosal samples from patients with CRS and appeared as a downstream result of TNF alpha modulation, which possibly resulted in epithelial barrier dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cornified Envelope Proline-Rich Proteins / analysis
  • Cornified Envelope Proline-Rich Proteins / genetics
  • Cornified Envelope Proline-Rich Proteins / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rhinitis / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA*
  • Sinusitis / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • Cornified Envelope Proline-Rich Proteins
  • SPRR1A protein, human
  • SPRR2A protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha