MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in normal and diseased cell functions. The small-GTPase RhoA is one of the key proteins of bronchial smooth muscle (BSM) contraction, and an upregulation of RhoA has been demonstrated in BSMs of experimental asthma. Although the mechanism of RhoA upregulation in the diseased BSMs is not fully understood, recent observations suggest that RhoA translation is controlled by a miRNA, miR-133a, in cardiomyocytes. Similarly, in human BSM cells (hBSMCs), our recent studies revealed that an upregulation of RhoA was induced when the function of endogenous miR-133a was inhibited by its antagomir. Treatment of hBSMCs with interleukin-13 (IL-13) caused an upregulation of RhoA and a downregulation of miR-133a. In a mouse model of allergic bronchial asthma, increased expression of IL-13 and RhoA and the BSM hyperresponsiveness were observed. The level of miR-133a was significantly decreased in BSMs of the diseased animals. These findings suggest that RhoA expression is negatively regulated by miR-133a in BSMs and that the miR-133a downregulation causes an upregulation of RhoA, resulting in an augmentation of the contraction. MiR-133a might be a key regulator of BSM hyperresponsiveness and provide us with new insight into the treatment of airway hyperresponsiveness in asthmatics.
The Japanese Pharmacological Society 2010