Increased Expression of LASI lncRNA Regulates the Cigarette Smoke and COPD Associated Airway Inflammation and Mucous Cell Hyperplasia

Marko Manevski, Dinesh Devadoss, Christopher Long, Shashi P. Singh, Mohd Wasim Nasser, Glen M. Borchert, Madhavan N. Nair, Irfan Rahman, Mohan Sopori, Hitendra S. Chand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Research Impact: Cigarette smoke (CS) exposure is strongly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In respiratory airways, CS exposure disrupts airway barrier functions, mucous/phlegm production, and basic immune responses of airway epithelial cells. Based on our recent identification of a specific immunomodulatory long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), we investigated its role in CS-induced responses in bronchial airways of cynomolgus macaque model of CS-induced COPD and in former smokers with and without COPD. The lncRNA was significantly upregulated in CS-induced macaque airways and in COPD airways that exhibited higher mucus expression and goblet cell hyperplasia. Experimental models of cells derived from COPD subjects recapitulated the augmented inflammation and mucus expression following the smoke challenge. Blocking of lncRNA expression in cell culture setting suppressed the smoke-induced and COPD-associated dysregulated mucoinflammatory response suggesting that this airway specific immunomodulatory lncRNA may represent a novel target to mitigate the smoke-mediated inflammation and mucus hyperexpression. Rationale: In conducting airways, CS disrupts airway epithelial functions, mucociliary clearances, and innate immune responses that are primarily orchestrated by human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs). Mucus hypersecretion and dysregulated immune response are the hallmarks of chronic bronchitis (CB) that is often exacerbated by CS. Notably, we recently identified a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) antisense to ICAM-1 (LASI) that mediates airway epithelial responses. Objective: To investigate the role of LASI lncRNA in CS-induced airway inflammation and mucin hyperexpression in an animal model of COPD, and in HBECs and lung tissues from former smokers with and without COPD. To interrogate LASI lncRNA role in CS-mediated airway mucoinflammatory responses by targeted gene editing. Methods: Small airway tissue sections from cynomolgus macaques exposed to long-term mainstream CS, and those from former smokers with and without COPD were analyzed. The structured-illumination imaging, RNA fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH), and qRT-PCR were used to characterize lncRNA expression and the expression of inflammatory factors and airway mucins in a cell culture model of CS extract (CSE) exposure using HBECs from COPD (CHBEs) in comparison with cells from normal control (NHBEs) subjects. The protein levels of mucin MUC5AC, and inflammatory factors ICAM-1, and IL-6 were determined using specific ELISAs. RNA silencing was used to block LASI lncRNA expression and lentivirus encoding LASI lncRNA was used to achieve LASI overexpression (LASI-OE). Results: Compared to controls, LASI lncRNA was upregulated in CS-exposed macaques and in COPD smoker airways, correlating with mucus hyperexpression and mucus cell hyperplasia in severe COPD airways. At baseline, the unstimulated CHBEs showed increased LASI lncRNA expression with higher expression of secretory mucin MUC5AC, and inflammatory factors, ICAM-1, and IL-6 compared to NHBEs. CSE exposure of CHBEs resulted in augmented inflammation and mucus expression compared to controls. While RNA silencing-mediated LASI knockdown suppressed the mucoinflammatory response, cells overexpressing LASI lncRNA showed elevated mRNA levels of inflammatory factors. Conclusions: Altogether, LASI lncRNA may represent a novel target to control the smoke-mediated dysregulation in airway responses and COPD exacerbations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number803362
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Jun 14 2022


  • bronchial epithelial cells
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • cigarette smoke (CS)
  • lncRNA antisense to ICAM-1 (LASI)
  • long noncoding RNA (lncRNA)
  • mucus hyperexpression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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