Aberrant DNA methylation of phosphodiestarase 4D alters airway smooth muscle cell phenotypes

Amanda H.Y. Lin, Yan Shang, Wayne Mitzner, James S.K. Sham, Wan Yee Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) is a hallmark feature in asthma characterized by exaggerated airway contractile response to stimuli due to increased airway sensitivity and chronic airway remodeling. We have previously shown that allergen-induced AHR in mice is associated with aberrant DNA methylation in the lung genome, suggesting that AHR could be epigenetically regulated, and these changes might predispose the animals to asthma. Previous studies demonstrated that overexpression of phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D) is associated with increased AHR. However, epigenetic regulation of this gene in asthmatic airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs) has not been examined. In this study, we aimed to examine the relationship between epigenetic regulation of PDE4D and ASMC phenotypes. We identified CpG site-specific hypomethylation at PDE4D promoter in human asthmatic ASMCs. We next used methylated oligonucleotides to introduce CpG site-specific methylation at PDE4D promoter and examined its effect on ASMCs. We showed that PDE4D methylation decreased cell proliferation and migration of asthmatic ASMCs. We further elucidated that methylated PDE4D decreased PDE4D expression in asthmatic ASMCs, increased cAMP level, and inhibited the aberrant increase in Ca2+ level. Moreover, PDE4D methylation reduced the phosphorylation level of downstream effectors of Ca signaling, including myosin light chain kinase and p38. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that gene-specific epigenetic changes may predispose ASMCs to asthma through alterations in cell phenotypes. Modulation of ASMC phenotypes by methylated PDE4D oligonucleotides can reverse the aberrant ASMC functions to normal phenotypes. This has provided new insight to the development of novel therapeutic options for this debilitative disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Airway hyperresponsiveness
  • Airway smooth muscle cell
  • DNA methylation
  • Methylated DNA oligonucleotides
  • Phosphodiesterase 4D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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