A time-dependently regulated gene network reveals that Aspergillus protease affects mitochondrial metabolism and airway epithelial cell barrier function via mitochondrial oxidants

Free Radic Biol Med. 2022 Apr 27:S0891-5849(22)00159-9. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2022.04.013. Online ahead of print.


The airway epithelium maintains tight barrier integrity to prevent penetration of pathogens; thus, impairment of the barrier function is an important and common histological feature in asthmatic patients. Proteolytic allergens from fungi, pollen, and house dust mites can disrupt epithelial barrier integrity, but the mechanism remains unclear. Aspergillus oryzae protease (AP)-induced mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to the epithelial inflammatory response. However, as mitochondrial ROS affect various cellular functions, such as metabolism, cell death, cell proliferation, and redox homeostasis through signal transduction, it is difficult to understand the detailed action mechanism of AP by measuring changes in a single gene or protein of a specific signaling pathway. Moreover, mitochondrial ROS can directly oxidize DNA to activate transcription, thereby affecting the expression of various genes at the transcriptional level. Therefore, we conducted whole-genome analysis and used a network-based approach to understand the effect of AP and AP-induced mitochondrial ROS in human primary airway epithelial cells and to evaluate the mechanistic basis for AP-mediated epithelial barrier dysfunction. Our results indicate that production of mitochondrial ROS following AP exposure induce mitochondrial dysfunction at an early stage. Over time, changes in genome expression were further expanded without remaining mitochondrial ROS. Specifically, genes involved in the apoptotic functions and intercellular junctions were affected, consequently impairing the cellular barrier integrity. This change was recovered by scavenging mitochondrial ROS at an early point after exposure to AP. In conclusion, our findings indicate that instantly increased mitochondrial ROS at the time of exposure to allergenic proteases consequently induces epithelial barrier dysfunction at a later time point, resulting in pathological changes. These data suggest that antioxidant therapy administered immediately after exposure to proteolytic antigens may be effective in maintaining epithelial barrier function.

PMID:35489562 | DOI:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2022.04.013

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