Airway mucus secretion is an essential innate immune response for host protection. However, overproduction and hypersecretion of mucus, mainly composed of the gel- forming MUC5AC protein, are significant risk factors for patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling pathway negatively regulates MUC5AC expression; however, the underlying molecular mechanism is not fully understood. Here, we showed that TGFβ significantly reduces the expression of MUC5AC mRNA and its protein in NCI-H292 cells, a human mucoepidermoid carcinoma cell line. This reduced MUC5AC expression was restored by a TGFβ receptor inhibitor (SB431542), but not by the inhibition of NF-κB (BAY11-7082 or Triptolide) or PI3K (LY294002) activities. TGFβ-activated Smad3 dose-dependently bound to MUC5AC promoter. Notably, TGFβ-activated Smad3 recruited HDAC2 and facilitated nuclear translocation of HDAC2, thereby inducing the deacetylation of NF-κB at K310, which is essential for a reduction in NF-κB transcriptional activity. Both TGFβ-induced nuclear translocation of Smad3/HDAC2 and deacetylation of NF-κB at K310 were suppressed by a Smad3 inhibitor (SIS3). These results suggest that the TGFβ-activated Smad3/HDAC2 complex is an essential negative regulator for MUC5AC expression and an epigenetic regulator for NF-κB acetylation. Therefore, these results collectively suggest that modulation of the TGFβ1/Smad3/HDAC2/NF-κB pathway axis can be a promising way to improve lung function as a treatment strategy for asthma and COPD.
Keywords: HDAC2; MUC5AC; NF-κB; Smad3; transforming growth factor β.