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Impaired TLR4 And HIF Expression In Cystic Fibrosis Bronchial Epithelial Cells Downregulates Hemeoxygenase-1 And Alters Iron Homeostasis In Vitro

Shashi Chillappagari, Shalini Venkatesan, Virajith Garapati, Poornima Mahavadi, Antje Munder, Andreas Seubert, Gaurav Sarode, Andreas Guenther, Bernd T. Schmeck, Burkhard Tümmler, Markus O. Henke

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Hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1), an inducible heat shock protein, is upregulated in response to multiple cellular insults via oxidative stress, lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and hypoxia. In this study, we investigated in vitro the role of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), and iron on HO-1 expression in cystic fibrosis (CF). Immunohistochemical analysis of TLR4, HO-1, ferritin, and HIF-1α were performed on lung sections of CFTR−/− and wild-type mice. CFBE41o- and 16HBE14o- cell lines were employed for in vitro analysis via immunoblotting, immunofluorescence, real-time PCR, luciferase reporter gene analysis, and iron quantification. We observed a reduced TLR4, HIF-1α, HO-1, and ferritin in CFBE41o- cell line and CF mice. Knockdown studies using TLR4-siRNA in 16HBE14o- revealed significant decrease of HO-1, confirming the role of TLR4 in HO-1 downregulation. Inhibition of HO-1 using tin protoporphyrin in 16HBE14o- cells resulted in increased iron levels, suggesting a probable role of HO-1 in iron accumulation. Additionally, sequestration of excess iron using iron chelators resulted in increased hypoxia response element response in CFBE41o- and 16HBE14o-, implicating a role of iron in HIF-1α stabilization and HO-1. To conclude, our in vitro results demonstrate that multiple regulatory factors, such as impaired TLR4 surface expression, increased intracellular iron, and decreased HIF-1α, downregulate HO-1 expression in CFBE41o- cells.