Thymocyte-expressed, positive selection-associated 1 (Tespa1) is a critical signaling molecule in thymocyte development. This study aimed to investigate the regulatory effect of Tespa1 on mast cells in the pathogenesis of asthma and its relationship with the interleukin (IL)-4/signal transducers and activators of transcription 6 (STAT6) signaling pathway.
Tespa1 mRNA expression analysis and IgE levels were carried out using the induced sputum of 33 adults with stable asthma and 36 healthy controls. Tespa1-knockout mice (Tespa1, KO) and C57BL/6 background (wild-type, WT) mice were sensitized and treated with ovalbumin (OVA) to establish an asthma model. Pathological changes, number and activity of mast cells, and changes in activation of the IL-4/STAT6 pathway in lung tissue were detected. The changes of tryptase expression and STAT6 activation after mast cell gene knockout were analyzed in vitro. The changes of enzyme expression and STAT6 activation after mast cell gene knockout were analyzed in vitro. The association between the Tespa1 and p-STAT6 was analyzed by co-immunoprecipitation method.
Compared with the healthy controls, Tespa1 expression was decreased, and IgE levels were elevated in the sputum of asthmatic patients. Animal experiments showed that Tespa1 mice exhibited more severe inflammation, higher quantity of goblet cells and mast cells in the bronchium, and greater expression of mast cell tryptase, which is induced by ovalbumin, than WT mice. And IL-4, IL-13, phospho-Janus kinase 1, and p-STAT6 expressions presented a higher increase in the Tespa1 mouse model than in the WT mouse model. Further in vitro studies confirmed that IL-4 could more significantly promote tryptase and p-STAT6 activities in Tespa1 mast cells than their WT counterparts. Correlation analysis results showed a negative correlation between Tespa1 and p-STAT6. Co-immunoprecipitation results demonstrated an association between Tespa1 and p-STAT6.
Altogether, our results indicate that Tespa1 can negatively regulate mast cell activity, and this event is related to the mast cell IL-4/STAT6 signaling pathway and could be therapeutically exploited to treat asthma attacks.