Transcriptomic Analysis Reveals a Link Between Hippo Signaling Pathway and Macrophages in Lungs of Mice with OVA-Induced Allergic Asthma

J Inflamm Res. 2022 Jan 19;15:423-437. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S346505. eCollection 2022.

Abstract

Purpose: The Hippo signaling pathway participates in the restriction of cell proliferation and organ growth. Activated macrophages have been implicated in the pathogenesis of allergic asthma. Recent studies have shown that Hippo signaling pathway may also be involved in the regulation of asthma. However, the link between Hippo signaling pathway and macrophages in the context of allergic asthma has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to explore the link between Hippo signaling pathway and macrophages using a mice model of OVA-induced allergic asthma.

Methods: Mice models of asthma were established. Lung tissues were collected from mice and pooled for mRNA sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. The relative mRNA expression of Hippo signalling pathway-related proteins Yap1, Lef1 and Ctgf was also measured. Double immunofluorescence staining was performed on lung tissues to evaluate macrophage marker F4/80 expression and Yap1/Lef1/Ctgf expression.

Results: Results of the RNA-Seq of lung tissues demonstrated that the Hippo signaling pathway was down-regulated in OVA-induced allergic asthma. Using the cytoHubba tool kits in Cytoscape, the following top 10 hub genes of Hippo signalling pathway were identified: Yap1, Lef1, Ctgf, Ccnd1, Axin2, Smad7, Wnt4, Wnt3a, Pard6b, and Wwc1. Using the seq-ImmuCC (http://218.4.234.74:3200/immune/), a negative correlation was found between macrophages and Hippo signaling pathway activity (R2 = 0.93). The mRNA expression levels of pulmonary Yap1, Lef1, and Ctgf were down-regulated in the mice model of OVA-induced allergic asthma. Moreover, double-stained immunofluorescence for F4/80 and Yap1, Lef1, Ctgf in mouse lung sections respectively revealed that macrophage proliferation was correlated with downregulation of the Hippo signaling pathway in the mice model of OVA-induced allergic asthma.

Conclusion: These results demonstrated that the Hippo signaling pathway was down-regulated in asthma mice, and the proliferation of macrophages was associated with downregulation of the Hippo signaling pathway. These findings reveal novel insights into the pathogenesis and treatment of asthma.

Keywords: Hippo signaling pathway; asthma; epithelial cells; macrophages.