A nonmuscle myosin light chain kinase-dependent gene signature in peripheral blood mononuclear cells is linked to human asthma severity and exacerbation status

Abstract

Asthma is increasingly recognized as a heterogeneous disease influenced by complex genetic and environmental contributions. Myosin light chain kinase (MLCK; gene symbol, MYLK), especially the nonmuscle isoform nmMLCK, is a cytoskeleton protein known to be related to human asthma susceptibility and severity, findings confirmed in preclinical models of asthmatic inflammation. In this study, we define the central capacity for a nmMLCK-influenced gene signature in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells to predict human asthma severity and exacerbation status. We refined this signature from a list of nmMLCK-influenced genes identified in lung tissues of nmMLCK knockout mice exposed to inflammatory stimuli (ventilator-induced lung injury), with subsequent identification of nmMLCK-influenced genes in a list of human asthma severity–related genes expressed in blood. The enriched nmMLCK-influenced gene signature successfully predicted human asthma severity and exacerbation status in both discovery and validation human asthma cohorts. These findings validate the central role played by nmMLCK in asthma susceptibility, severity, and exacerbation and further provide novel gene signatures as effective asthma biomarkers for severity, exacerbation, and prognosis.

Published in:

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 2 cover image

June 2015

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 2

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