The 10% of patients with the most severe asthma are responsible for a large part of healthcare expenditure and morbidity. Understanding the processes involved is key if new therapeutic approaches are to be developed. Evidence is accumulating that chronic diseases such as asthma are associated with temporal and spatial alterations in the pattern of inflammatory gene expression within the airways. Expression of these genes can be regulated by transcriptional, posttranscriptional, translational and epigenetic mechanisms. It is well established that binding of activated transcription factors to specific inducible gene promoter sites is tightly controlled by chromatin state as a result of histone modifications, particularly the balance between histone acetylation and deacetylation . The interaction between transcription factors and the promoter is key to the diversification of gene expression in a time dependent manner leading to altered gene expression profiles. Alterations of the accessibility of transcription factors to the DNA can have residing effects upon gene transcription. This review will focus on the regulation of several groups of key genes which are involved in chronic airway inflammation and remodelling in asthma drawing mainly from our experience of studying these processes in airway smooth muscle cells. An overview is shown in Fig. 1.
Keywords: Transcription, asthma, smooth muscle, epigenetic, chromatin, prostanoids, chemokines, growth factors, H2A/H2B, N-terminal, acetyltransferase, proteins, cyclic peptides, polyadenylation, COX-2, NF-IL-6, chemoattractant, cytokines, mRNA, angiogenesis
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