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Am J Physiol. 1999 Jul;277(1):L65-78. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.1999.277.1.L65.

Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase mediates mitogen-induced human airway smooth muscle cell proliferation.

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Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4283, USA.


Hypertrophy and hyperplasia of airway smooth muscle (ASM) are important pathological features that contribute to airflow obstruction in chronic severe asthma. Despite considerable research effort, the cellular mechanisms that modulate ASM growth remain unknown. Recent evidence suggests that mitogen-induced activation of phosphoinositide (PI)-specific phospholipase C (PLC) and PI-dependent calcium mobilization are neither sufficient nor necessary to stimulate human ASM proliferation. In this study, we identify phosphatidylinositol (PtdIns) 3-kinase as a key regulator of human ASM proliferation. Pretreatment of human ASM with the PtdIns 3-kinase inhibitors wortmannin and LY-294002 significantly reduced thrombin- and epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced DNA synthesis (IC(50) approximately 10 nM and approximately 3 microM, respectively). In separate experiments, wortmannin and LY-294002 markedly inhibited PtdIns 3-kinase and 70-kDa S6 protein kinase (pp70(S6k)) activation induced by stimulation of human ASM cells with EGF and thrombin but had no effect on EGF- and thrombin-induced p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation. The specificity of wortmannin and LY-294002 was further suggested by the demonstrated inability of these compounds to alter thrombin-induced calcium transients, total PI hydrolysis, or basal cAMP levels. Transient expression of constitutively active PtdIns 3-kinase (p110*) activated pp70(S6k), whereas a dominant-negative PtdIns 3-kinase (Deltap85) blocked EGF- and thrombin-stimulated pp70(S6k) activity. Collectively, these data suggest that activation of PtdIns 3-kinase is required for the mitogenic effect of EGF and thrombin in human ASM cells. Further investigation of the role of PtdIns 3-kinase may offer new therapeutic approaches in the treatment of diseases characterized by smooth muscle cell hyperplasia such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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