Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a severe public health threat world-wide. Cigarette smoke (CS)-induced airway epithelial cell death is a major pathway of pathogenesis in emphysema, a subtype of COPD. Protein arginine methyltransferase 6 (PRMT6) is a type I PRMT that catalyzes mono- and di-methylation on arginine residues within histone and non-histone proteins to modulate a variety of life processes, such as apoptosis. However, its role in CS-induced lung epithelial death has not been fully elucidated. Here we report that PRMT6 was decreased in mouse lung tissues from a cigarette smoke extract (CSE)-mediated experimental emphysematous model and in CSE treated or cigarette smoke exposed lung epithelial cells. Depletion of PRMT6 increased the protein levels of phosphatase PTEN and PI3K regulatory subunit p85 but decreased a downstream kinase PDK1, resulting in AKT dephosphorylation and thereafter, lung epithelial cell death. Knockout of PRMT6 inhibited epithelial survival and promoted CSE-mediated epithelial cell death, while ectopic expression of PRMT6 protein partially reversed epithelial cell death via PI3K/AKT-mediated cell survival signaling in CSE cellular models. These findings demonstrate that PRMT6 plays a crucial role in CS-induced bronchial epithelial cell death that may be a potential therapeutic target against the airway cell death in CS-induced COPD.

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PubMed