m6A regulator-mediated RNA methylation modification patterns and immune microenvironment infiltration characterization in severe asthma

J Cell Mol Med. 2021 Nov;25(21):10236-10247. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.16961. Epub 2021 Oct 14.

Abstract

N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification is one of the most prevalent RNA modification forms of eukaryotic mRNA and is an important post-transcriptional mechanism for regulating genes. However, the role of m6A modification in the regulation of severe asthma has never been reported. Thus, we aimed to investigate the m6A regulator-mediated RNA methylation modification patterns and immune microenvironment infiltration characterization in severe asthma. In this study, 87 healthy controls and 344 severe asthma cases from the U-BIOPRED (Unbiased Biomarkers for the Prediction of Respiratory Disease Outcomes) programme were used to systematically evaluate the m6A modification patterns mediated by 27 m6A regulators and to investigate the effects of m6A modification on immune microenvironment characteristics. We found that 16 m6A regulators were abnormal and identified two key m6A regulators (YTHDF3 and YTHDC1) and three m6A modification patterns. The study of infiltration characteristics of immune microenvironment found that pattern 2 had more infiltrating immune cells and more active immune response. Besides, it was found that the eosinophils which are very important for severe asthma were affected by YTHDF3 and EIF3B. We also verified key m6A regulators with merip-seq and found that they were mainly distributed in exons and enriched in 3'UTR. In conclusion, our findings suggested that m6A modification plays a key role in severe asthma, and may be able to guide the future strategy of immunotherapy.

Keywords: epigenetics; immune microenvironment; m6A; m6A modification pattern; severe asthma.