ORM1-like 3 (ORMDL3) has strong genetic linkage to childhood onset asthma. To determine whether ORMDL3 selective expression in airway smooth muscle (ASM) influences ASM function, we used Cre-loxP techniques to generate transgenic mice (hORMDL3Myh11eGFP-cre), which express human ORMDL3 selectively in smooth muscle cells. In vitro studies of ASM cells isolated from the bronchi of hORMDL3Myh11eGFP-cre mice demonstrated that they developed hypertrophy (quantitated by FACS and image analysis), developed hyperplasia (assessed by BrdU incorporation), and expressed increased levels of tropomysin proteins TPM1 and TPM4. siRNA knockdown of TPM1 or TPM4 demonstrated their importance to ORMDL3-mediated ASM proliferation but not hypertrophy. In addition, ASM derived from hORMDL3Myh11eGFP-cre mice had increased contractility to histamine in vitro, which was associated with increased levels of intracellular Ca2+; increased cell surface membrane Orai1 Ca2+ channels, which mediate influx of Ca2+ into the cytoplasm; and increased expression of ASM contractile genes sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase 2b and smooth muscle 22. In vivo studies of hORMDL3Myh11eGFP-cre mice demonstrated that they had a spontaneous increase in ASM and airway hyperreactivity (AHR). ORMDL3 expression in ASM thus induces changes in ASM (hypertrophy, hyperplasia, increased contractility), which may explain the contribution of ORMDL3 to the development of AHR in childhood onset asthma, which is highly linked to ORMDL3 on chromosome 17q12-21.
Keywords: Asthma; Muscle Biology; Pulmonology.