Defective BACH1/HO-1 regulatory circuits in cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial cells

J Cyst Fibros. 2021 Jan;20(1):140-148. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2020.05.006. Epub 2020 Jun 11.


Background: The stress-regulated enzyme hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) contributes to the cell response towards inflammation and oxidative stress. We previously reported on curtailed HO-1 expression in cystic fibrosis (CF) bronchial epithelial (CFBE41o-) cells and CF-mice, but the molecular mechanisms for this are not known. Here, we compared healthy and CF bronchial epithelial cells for regulatory circuits controlling HO-1 protein levels.

Methods: In this study, we employed immunohistochemistry on CF and healthy lung sections to examine the BACH1 protein expression. Alteration of BACH1 protein levels in 16HBE14o- and CFBE41o- cells was achieved by using either siRNA-mediated knockdown of BACH1 or by increasing miRNA-155 levels. HO-1 luciferase reporter assay was chosen to examine the downstream affects after BACH1 modulation.

Results: Human CF lungs and cells showed increased levels of the HO-1 transcriptional repressor, BACH1, and increased miR-155 expression. Knockdown studies using BACH1 siRNA and overexpression of miR-155 did not significantly rescue HO-1 expression in CFBE41o- cells. Elevated BACH1 expression detected in CF cells was refractory to the inhibitory function of miR-155 and was instead due to increased protein stability.

Conclusion: We observed defects in the inhibitory activities of miR-155 and BACH1 on HO-1 expression in CF cells. Thus various defective regulatory loops account for dysregulated BACH1 expression in CF, which in turn may contribute to low HO-1 levels.

Keywords: BACH1; Hemeoxygenase-1; MicroRNAs; Regulatory circuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't