Alternaria alternata-induced airway epithelial signaling and inflammatory responses via protease-activated receptor-2 expression

Candy M. Rivas, Hillary V. Schiff, Aubin Moutal, Rajesh Khanna, Pawel R. Kiela, Gregory Dussor, Theodore J. Price, Josef Vagner, Kathryn A. DeFea, Scott Boitano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inhalation of the fungus Alternaria alternata is associated with an increased risk of allergic asthma development and exacerbations. Recent work in acute exposure animal models suggests that A. alternata-induced asthma symptoms, which include inflammation, mucus overproduction and airway hyperresponsiveness, are due to A. alternata proteases that act via protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR2). However, because other active components present in A. alternata may be contributing to asthma pathophysiology through alternative signaling, the specific role PAR2 plays in asthma initiation and maintenance remains undefined. Airway epithelial cells provide the first encounter with A. alternata and are thought to play an important role in initiating the physiologic response. To better understand the role for PAR2 airway epithelial signaling we created a PAR2-deficient human bronchial epithelial cell line (16HBEPAR-/-) from a model bronchial parental line (16HBE14o-). Comparison of in vitro physiologic responses in these cell lines demonstrated a complete loss of PAR2 agonist (2at-LIGRL-NH2) response and significantly attenuated protease (trypsin and elastase) and A. alternata responses in the 16HBEPAR-/- line. Apical application of A. alternata to 16HBE14o- and 16HBEPAR2-/- grown at air-liquid interface demonstrated rapid, PAR2-dependent and independent, inflammatory cytokine, chemokine and growth factor basolateral release. In conclusion, the novel human PAR2-deficient cell line allows for direct in vitro examination of the role(s) for PAR2 in allergen challenge with polarized human airway epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
StatePublished - Feb 5 2022


  • Airway epithelium
  • Allergen
  • Alternaria alternata
  • Inflammatory cytokines
  • Receptor, PAR-2/metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Epithelial Cells/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Humans
  • Bronchi/pathology
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems/genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Alternaria/physiology
  • Inflammation/pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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