Inducible nitric oxide synthase-2 (NOS2) expression has been shown to be reduced in cystic fibrosis (CF) epithelial cells. Reduced NOS2 expression is unexpected, given the inflammatory nature of CF airway disease, and is an indication that cell-signaling mechanisms necessary for proper NOS2 regulation are probably altered in CF epithelium. Therefore, we examined the expression levels of regulatory factors necessary for NOS2 expression in CF epithelium and showed that IFN regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1) is necessary for full NOS2 expression. Mice lacking IRF-1 expression have diminished epithelial NOS2 expression, as well as reduced NO-dependent chloride transport across the nasal epithelia. Furthermore, IRF-1 protein expression is reduced in nasal and intestinal epithelial cells from CF mice, suggesting a possible mechanism for the CF-related reduction of epithelial NOS2 expression. Active signal transducer and activator of transcription-1 (Stat1) is necessary for both NOS2 and IRF-1 expression. We found that protein levels of Stat1 were increased in CF cells, but that the active phosphorylated form of Stat1 was bound to the protein inhibitor of activated Stat1 (PIAS1). We propose that increased levels of PIAS1 diminish certain cell-signaling pathways, resulting in reduced IRF-1 and NOS2 expression in CF epithelial cells.
Thomas J. Kelley, Heather L. Elmer