BACKGROUND: Nondaily smoking has increased among current U.S. smokers in the past decade and is practiced by a significant percentage of smokers. Although research in nondaily smoking has grown, little is known about levels of exposure to tobacco toxicants among nondaily smokers and their variation across ethnic groups.
METHODS: We examined urinary levels of cotinine and a tobacco-specific nitrosamine (NNAL) in community participants. Associations between the biomarker data and smoking characteristics were evaluated using Spearman's correlation analysis.
RESULTS: Participants were 28 Blacks, 4 Latinos, and 25 Whites who smoked at least 1 cigarette on 4-24 days in the past 30 days. Participants averaged 3.3 (SD = 2.1) cigarettes per day (cpd) on days smoked, smoked an average of 13.0 (SD = 5.4) days in the past month, and smoked nondaily for 10.5 (SD = 10.5) years. Median levels of creatinine-normalized cotinine and NNAL were 490.9ng/mg and 140.7 pg/mg, respectively. NNAL and cotinine were highly correlated, r = .84; NNAL and cotinine were modestly correlated with cpd, r = .39 and r = .34 (all p values <.05). The number of days smoked per month was not associated with any biomarker levels.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that nondaily smokers are, on average, exposed to significant levels of nicotine and carcinogenic nitrosamines, with exposures of 40%-50% of those seen in daily smokers. This level of exposure suggests a significant health risk. Nicotine and carcinogen exposure is most closely related to number of cigarettes smoked per day but not to number of days per month of smoking.
Blog post to AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators. The American Evaluation Association is an international professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.
Health Information Literacy Outreach: A Curriculum for Improving Health Information Literacy of 6th Grade Children
This health information literacy (HIL) curriculum is designed for sixth grade students. It was developed by librarian and faculty from MCPHS University in collaboration with a local public library, art museum, local department of public health and local public elementary schools. It is designed around a major environmental health problem in the U.S., childhood lead poisoning.
The curriculum is designed to: 1) improve the health information literacy skills, and 2) increase knowledge of lead poisoning. A secondary goal of the project is to encourage 6th grade students to include attending college as one of their aspirations.
The curriculum is highly interactive and designed to be utilized over three to five sessions. A detailed description of the program components can be found in the following paper: Bond I, Friel C, Lahoz M. Spearheading Health Information Literacy in the Community: The Libraries as Leaders, IFLA Congress, June 04, 2011. Available at: http://conference.ifla.org/past/ifla77/114-bond-en.pdf.
Materials in this curriculum packet include: a pre and post-test to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, laboratory “experiments” to be conducted in the classroom or college laboratory, worksheets to guide students as they evaluate health information websites, non-fiction stories to read to students about lead poisoning cases, and a poster template for students to use to design a capstone poster. The curriculum also includes fictional Medical Mystery cases that contain artwork specific to the Worcester Art Museum. These cases could be adapted to include works of art from any partnering art museum.
This curriculum can be modified and used by librarians, teachers, public health workers, museum staff and anyone interested in conducting an HIL outreach project. The project was funded by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine-New England Region.
Transcriptional regulation differs in affected facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy patients compared to asymptomatic related carriers
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a progressive muscle disorder that has been associated with a contraction of 3.3-kb repeats on chromosome 4q35. FSHD is characterized by a wide clinical inter- and intrafamilial variability, ranging from wheelchair-bound patients to asymptomatic carriers. Our study is unique in comparing the gene expression profiles from related affected, asymptomatic carrier, and control individuals. Our results suggest that the expression of genes on chromosome 4q is altered in affected and asymptomatic individuals. Remarkably, the changes seen in asymptomatic samples are largely in products of genes encoding several chemokines, whereas the changes seen in affected samples are largely in genes governing the synthesis of GPI-linked proteins and histone acetylation. Besides this, the affected patient and related asymptomatic carrier share the 4qA161 haplotype. Thus, these polymorphisms by themselves do not explain the pathogenicity of the contracted allele. Interestingly, our results also suggest that the miRNAs might mediate the regulatory network in FSHD. Together, our results support the previous evidence that FSHD may be caused by transcriptional dysregulation of multiple genes, in cis and in trans, and suggest some factors potentially important for FSHD pathogenesis. The study of the gene expression profiles from asymptomatic carriers and related affected patients is a unique approach to try to enhance our understanding of the missing link between the contraction in D4Z4 repeats and muscle disease, while minimizing the effects of differences resulting from genetic background.
Ku70 regulates Bax-mediated pathogenesis in laminin-alpha2-deficient human muscle cells and mouse models of congenital muscular dystrophy
The severely debilitating disease Congenital Muscular Dystrophy Type 1A (MDC1A) is caused by mutations in the gene encoding laminin-alpha2. Bax-mediated muscle cell death is a significant contributor to the severe neuromuscular pathology seen in the Lama2-null mouse model of MDC1A. To extend our understanding of pathogenesis due to laminin-alpha2-deficiency, we have now analyzed molecular mechanisms of Bax regulation in normal and laminin-alpha2-deficient muscles and cells, including myogenic cells obtained from patients with a clinical diagnosis of MDC1A. In mouse myogenic cells, we found that, as in non-muscle cells, Bax co-immunoprecipitated with the multifunctional protein Ku70. In addition, cell permeable pentapeptides designed from Ku70, termed Bax-inhibiting peptides (BIPs), inhibited staurosporine-induced Bax translocation and cell death in mouse myogenic cells. We also found that acetylation of Ku70, which can inhibit binding to Bax and can be an indicator of increased susceptibility to cell death, was more abundant in Lama2-null than in normal mouse muscles. Furthermore, myotubes formed in culture from human laminin-alpha2-deficient patient myoblasts produced high levels of activated caspase-3 when grown on poly-L-lysine, but not when grown on a laminin-alpha2-containing substrate or when treated with BIPs. Finally, cytoplasmic Ku70 in human laminin-alpha2-deficient myotubes was both reduced in amount and more highly acetylated than in normal myotubes. Increased susceptibility to cell death thus appears to be an intrinsic property of human laminin-alpha2-deficient myotubes. These results identify Ku70 as a regulator of Bax-mediated pathogenesis and a therapeutic target in laminin-alpha2-deficiency.
Establishment of clonal myogenic cell lines from severely affected dystrophic muscles - CDK4 maintains the myogenic population
BACKGROUND: A hallmark of muscular dystrophies is the replacement of muscle by connective tissue. Muscle biopsies from patients severely affected with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) may contain few myogenic cells. Because the chromosomal contraction at 4q35 linked to FSHD is thought to cause a defect within myogenic cells, it is important to study this particular cell type, rather than the fibroblasts and adipocytes of the endomysial fibrosis, to understand the mechanism leading to myopathy.
RESULTS: We present a protocol to establish clonal myogenic cell lines from even severely dystrophic muscle that has been replaced mostly by fat, using overexpression of CDK4 and the catalytic component of telomerase (human telomerase reverse transcriptase; hTERT), and a subsequent cloning step. hTERT is necessary to compensate for telomere loss during in vitro cultivation, while CDK4 prevents a telomere-independent growth arrest affecting CD56+ myogenic cells, but not their CD56- counterpart, in vitro.
CONCLUSIONS: These immortal cell lines are valuable tools to reproducibly study the effect of the FSHD mutation within myoblasts isolated from muscles that have been severely affected by the disease, without the confounding influence of variable amounts of contaminating connective-tissue cells.
Inhibition of the myostatin signaling pathway is emerging as a promising therapeutic means to treat muscle wasting and degenerative disorders. Activin type IIB receptor (ActRIIB) is the putative myostatin receptor, and a soluble activin receptor (ActRIIB-Fc) has been demonstrated to potently inhibit a subset of transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta family members including myostatin. To determine reliable and valid biomarkers for ActRIIB-Fc treatment, we assessed gene expression profiles for quadriceps muscles from mice treated with ActRIIB-Fc compared with mice genetically lacking myostatin and control mice. Expression of 134 genes was significantly altered in mice treated with ActRIIB-Fc over a 2-wk period relative to control mice (fold change > 1.5, P < 0.001), whereas the number of significantly altered genes in mice treated for 2 days was 38, demonstrating a time-dependent response to ActRIIB-Fc in overall muscle gene expression. The number of significantly altered genes in Mstn(-/-) mice relative to control mice was substantially higher (360), but for most of these genes the expression levels in the 2-wk treated mice were closer to the levels in the Mstn(-/-) mice than in control mice (P < 10(-)(3)(0)). Expression levels of 30 selected genes were further validated with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), and a correlation of >/= 0.89 was observed between the fold changes from the microarray analysis and the qPCR analysis. These data suggest that treatment with ActRIIB-Fc results in overlapping but distinct gene expression signatures compared with myostatin genetic mutation. Differentially expressed genes identified in this study can be used as potential biomarkers for ActRIIB-Fc treatment, which is currently in clinical trials as a therapeutic agent for muscle wasting and degenerative disorders.
Peripheral nerve pathology, including aberrant Schwann cell differentiation, is ameliorated by doxycycline in a laminin-alpha2-deficient mouse model of congenital muscular dystrophy
The most common form of childhood congenital muscular dystrophy, Type 1A (MDC1A), is caused by mutations in the human LAMA2 gene that encodes the laminin-alpha2 subunit. In addition to skeletal muscle deficits, MDC1A patients typically show a loss of peripheral nerve function. To identify the mechanisms underlying this loss of nerve function, we have examined pathology and cell differentiation in sciatic nerves and ventral roots of the laminin-alpha2-deficient (Lama2(-/-)) mice, which are models for MDC1A. We found that, compared with wild-type, sciatic nerves of Lama2(-/-) mice had a significant increase in both proliferating (Ki67+) cells and premyelinating (Oct6+) Schwann cells, but also had a significant decrease in both immature/non-myelinating [glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)(+)] and myelinating (Krox20+) Schwann cells. To extend our previous work in which we found that doxycycline, which has multiple effects on mammalian cells, improves motor behavior and more than doubles the median life-span of Lama2(-/-) mice, we also determined how nerve pathology was affected by doxycycline treatment. We found that myelinating (Krox20+) Schwann cells were significantly increased in doxycycline-treated compared with untreated sciatic nerves. In addition, doxycycline-treated peripheral nerves had significantly less pathology as measured by assays such as amount of unmyelinated or disorganized axons. This study thus identified aberrant proliferation and differentiation of Schwann cells as key components of pathogenesis in peripheral nerves and provided proof-of-concept that pharmaceutical therapy can be of potential benefit for peripheral nerve dysfunction in MDC1A.
Large-scale population analysis challenges the current criteria for the molecular diagnosis of fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a common hereditary myopathy causally linked to reduced numbers (≤8) of 3.3 kilobase D4Z4 tandem repeats at 4q35. However, because individuals carrying D4Z4-reduced alleles and no FSHD and patients with FSHD and no short allele have been observed, additional markers have been proposed to support an FSHD molecular diagnosis. In particular a reduction in the number of D4Z4 elements combined with the 4A(159/161/168)PAS haplotype (which provides the possibility of expressing DUX4) is currently used as the genetic signature uniquely associated with FSHD. Here, we analyzed these DNA elements in more than 800 Italian and Brazilian samples of normal individuals unrelated to any FSHD patients. We find that 3% of healthy subjects carry alleles with a reduced number (4-8) of D4Z4 repeats on chromosome 4q and that one-third of these alleles, 1.3%, occur in combination with the 4A161PAS haplotype. We also systematically characterized the 4q35 haplotype in 253 unrelated FSHD patients. We find that only 127 of them (50.1%) carry alleles with 1-8 D4Z4 repeats associated with 4A161PAS, whereas the remaining FSHD probands carry different haplotypes or alleles with a greater number of D4Z4 repeats. The present study shows that the current genetic signature of FSHD is a common polymorphism and that only half of FSHD probands carry this molecular signature. Our results suggest that the genetic basis of FSHD, which is remarkably heterogeneous, should be revisited, because this has important implications for genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis of at-risk families.
We describe improved methods for large format, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2DE) that improve protein solubility and recovery, minimize proteolysis, and reduce the loss of resolution due to contaminants and manipulations of the gels, and thus enhance quantitative analysis of protein spots. Key modifications are: (i) the use of 7 M urea and 2 M thiourea, instead of 9 M urea, in sample preparation and in the tops of the gel tubes; (ii) standardized deionization of all solutions containing urea with a mixed bed ion exchange resin and removal of urea from the electrode solutions; and (iii) use of a new gel tank and cooling device that eliminate the need to run two separating gels in the SDS dimension. These changes make 2DE analysis more reproducible and sensitive, with minimal artifacts. Application of this method to the soluble fraction of muscle tissues reliably resolves ~1800 protein spots in adult human skeletal muscle and over 2800 spots in myotubes.
A unique library of myogenic cells from facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy subjects and unaffected relatives: family, disease and cell function
To explore possible mechanisms of pathology in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), we generated a novel library of myogenic cells composed of paired cultures derived from FSHD subjects and unaffected first-degree relatives. We prepared cells from biopsies of both biceps and deltoid muscles obtained from each of 10 FSHD and 9 unaffected donors. We used this new collection to determine how family background and disease affected patterns of growth and differentiation, expression of a panel of candidate, and muscle-specific genes, and responses to exogenous stressors. We found that FSHD and unaffected cells had, on average, indistinguishable patterns of differentiation, gene expression, and dose-response curves to staurosporine, paraquat, hydrogen peroxide, and glutathione depletion. Differentiated FSHD and unaffected cultures were both more sensitive to glutathione depletion than proliferating cultures, but showed similar responses to paraquat, staurosporine, and peroxide. For stress responses, the sample size was sufficient to detect a 10% change in effect at the observed variability with a power of >99%. In contrast, for each of these properties, we found significant differences among cells from different cohorts, and these differences were independent of disease status, gender, or muscle biopsied. Thus, though none of the properties we examined could be used to reliably distinguish between FSHD and unaffected cells, family of origin was an important contributor to gene-expression patterns and stressor responses in cultures of both FSHD and unaffected myogenic cells.
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy family studies of DUX4 expression: evidence for disease modifiers and a quantitative model of pathogenesis
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), the most prevalent myopathy afflicting both children and adults, is predominantly associated with contractions in the 4q35-localized macrosatellite D4Z4 repeat array. Recent studies have proposed that FSHD pathology is caused by the misexpression of the DUX4 (double homeobox 4) gene resulting in production of a pathogenic protein, DUX4-FL, which has been detected in FSHD, but not in unaffected control myogenic cells and muscle tissue. Here, we report the analysis of DUX4 mRNA and protein expression in a much larger collection of myogenic cells and muscle biopsies derived from biceps and deltoid muscles of FSHD affected subjects and their unaffected first-degree relatives. We confirmed that stable DUX4-fl mRNA and protein were expressed in myogenic cells and muscle tissues derived from FSHD affected subjects, including several genetically diagnosed adult FSHD subjects yet to show clinical manifestations of the disease in the assayed muscles. In addition, we report DUX4-fl mRNA and protein expression in muscle biopsies and myogenic cells from genetically unaffected relatives of the FSHD subjects, although at a significantly lower frequency. These results establish that DUX4-fl expression per se is not sufficient for FSHD muscle pathology and indicate that quantitative modifiers of DUX4-fl expression and/or function and family genetic background are determinants of FSHD muscle disease progression.
Transcriptional profiling in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy to identify candidate biomarkers
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a progressive neuromuscular disorder caused by contractions of repetitive elements within the macrosatellite D4Z4 on chromosome 4q35. The pathophysiology of FSHD is unknown and, as a result, there is currently no effective treatment available for this disease. To better understand the pathophysiology of FSHD and develop mRNA-based biomarkers of affected muscles, we compared global analysis of gene expression in two distinct muscles obtained from a large number of FSHD subjects and their unaffected first-degree relatives. Gene expression in two muscle types was analyzed using GeneChip Gene 1.0 ST arrays: biceps, which typically shows an early and severe disease involvement; and deltoid, which is relatively uninvolved. For both muscle types, the expression differences were mild: using relaxed cutoffs for differential expression (fold change >/=1.2; nominal P value <0.01), we identified 191 and 110 genes differentially expressed between affected and control samples of biceps and deltoid muscle tissues, respectively, with 29 genes in common. Controlling for a false-discovery rate of <0.25 reduced the number of differentially expressed genes in biceps to 188 and in deltoid to 7. Expression levels of 15 genes altered in this study were used as a "molecular signature" in a validation study of an additional 26 subjects and predicted them as FSHD or control with 90% accuracy based on biceps and 80% accuracy based on deltoids.
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a common form of muscular dystrophy characterized by an asymmetric progressive weakness and wasting of the facial, shoulder and upper arm muscles, frequently accompanied by hearing loss and retinal vasculopathy. FSHD is an autosomal dominant disease linked to chromosome 4q35, but the causative gene remains controversial. DUX4 is a leading candidate gene as causative of FSHD. However, DUX4 expression is extremely low in FSHD muscle, and there is no DUX4 animal model that mirrors the pathology in human FSHD. Here, we show that the misexpression of very low levels of human DUX4 in zebrafish development recapitulates the phenotypes seen in human FSHD patients. Microinjection of small amounts of human full-length DUX4 (DUX4-fl) mRNA into fertilized zebrafish eggs caused asymmetric abnormalities such as less pigmentation of the eyes, altered morphology of ears, developmental abnormality of fin muscle, disorganization of facial musculature and/or degeneration of trunk muscle later in development. Moreover, DUX4-fl expression caused aberrant localization of myogenic cells marked with alpha-actin promoter-driven enhanced green fluorescent protein outside somite boundary, especially in head region. These abnormalities were rescued by coinjection of the short form of DUX4 (DUX4-s). Our results suggest that the misexpression of DUX4-fl, even at extremely low level, can recapitulate the phenotype observed in FSHD patients in a vertebrate model. These results strongly support the current hypothesis for a role of DUX4 in FSHD pathogenesis. We also propose that DUX4 expression during development is important for the pathogenesis of FSHD.
Algorithms designed to identify canonical yeast prions predict that around 250 human proteins, including several RNA-binding proteins associated with neurodegenerative disease, harbour a distinctive prion-like domain (PrLD) enriched in uncharged polar amino acids and glycine. PrLDs in RNA-binding proteins are essential for the assembly of ribonucleoprotein granules. However, the interplay between human PrLD function and disease is not understood. Here we define pathogenic mutations in PrLDs of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) A2B1 and A1 in families with inherited degeneration affecting muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone, and in one case of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Wild-type hnRNPA2 (the most abundant isoform of hnRNPA2B1) and hnRNPA1 show an intrinsic tendency to assemble into self-seeding fibrils, which is exacerbated by the disease mutations. Indeed, the pathogenic mutations strengthen a 'steric zipper' motif in the PrLD, which accelerates the formation of self-seeding fibrils that cross-seed polymerization of wild-type hnRNP. Notably, the disease mutations promote excess incorporation of hnRNPA2 and hnRNPA1 into stress granules and drive the formation of cytoplasmic inclusions in animal models that recapitulate the human pathology. Thus, dysregulated polymerization caused by a potent mutant steric zipper motif in a PrLD can initiate degenerative disease. Related proteins with PrLDs should therefore be considered candidates for initiating and perhaps propagating proteinopathies of muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal human neurodegenerative disease affecting primarily motor neurons. Two RNA-binding proteins, TDP-43 and FUS, aggregate in the degenerating motor neurons of ALS patients, and mutations in the genes encoding these proteins cause some forms of ALS. TDP-43 and FUS and several related RNA-binding proteins harbor aggregation-promoting prion-like domains that allow them to rapidly self-associate. This property is critical for the formation and dynamics of cellular ribonucleoprotein granules, the crucibles of RNA metabolism and homeostasis. Recent work connecting TDP-43 and FUS to stress granules has suggested how this cellular pathway, which involves protein aggregation as part of its normal function, might be coopted during disease pathogenesis.
Telomeres may regulate human disease by at least two independent mechanisms. First, replicative senescence occurs once short telomeres generate DNA-damage signals that produce a barrier to tumor progression. Second, telomere position effects (TPE) could change gene expression at intermediate telomere lengths in cultured human cells. Here we report that telomere length may contribute to the pathogenesis of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). FSHD is a late-onset disease genetically residing only 25-60 kilobases from the end of chromosome 4q. We used a floxable telomerase to generate isogenic clones with different telomere lengths from affected patients and their unaffected siblings. DUX4, the primary candidate for FSHD pathogenesis, is upregulated over ten-fold in FSHD myoblasts and myotubes with short telomeres, and its expression is inversely proportional to telomere length. FSHD may be the first known human disease in which TPE contributes to age-related phenotype.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease whose causes are still poorly understood. To identify additional genetic risk factors, we assessed the role of de novo mutations in ALS by sequencing the exomes of 47 ALS patients and both of their unaffected parents (n = 141 exomes). We found that amino acid-altering de novo mutations were enriched in genes encoding chromatin regulators, including the neuronal chromatin remodeling complex (nBAF) component SS18L1 (also known as CREST). CREST mutations inhibited activity-dependent neurite outgrowth in primary neurons, and CREST associated with the ALS protein FUS. These findings expand our understanding of the ALS genetic landscape and provide a resource for future studies into the pathogenic mechanisms contributing to sporadic ALS.
Profoundly different prion diseases in knock-in mice carrying single PrP codon substitutions associated with human diseases
In man, mutations in different regions of the prion protein (PrP) are associated with infectious neurodegenerative diseases that have remarkably different clinical signs and neuropathological lesions. To explore the roots of this phenomenon, we created a knock-in mouse model carrying the mutation associated with one of these diseases [Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)] that was exactly analogous to a previous knock-in model of a different prion disease [fatal familial insomnia (FFI)]. Together with the WT parent, this created an allelic series of three lines, each expressing the same protein with a single amino acid difference, and with all native regulatory elements intact. The previously described FFI mice develop neuronal loss and intense reactive gliosis in the thalamus, as seen in humans with FFI. In contrast, CJD mice had the hallmark features of CJD, spongiosis and proteinase K-resistant PrP aggregates, initially developing in the hippocampus and cerebellum but absent from the thalamus. A molecular transmission barrier protected the mice from any infectious prion agents that might have been present in our mouse facility and allowed us to conclude that the diseases occurred spontaneously. Importantly, both models created agents that caused a transmissible neurodegenerative disease in WT mice. We conclude that single codon differences in a single gene in an otherwise normal genome can cause remarkably different neurodegenerative diseases and are sufficient to create distinct protein-based infectious elements.
A new approach for the study of lung smooth muscle phenotypes and its application in a murine model of allergic airway inflammation
Phenotypes of lung smooth muscle cells in health and disease are poorly characterized. This is due, in part, to a lack of methodologies that allow for the independent and direct isolation of bronchial smooth muscle cells (BSMCs) and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) from the lung. In this paper, we describe the development of a bi-fluorescent mouse that permits purification of these two cell populations by cell sorting. By subjecting this mouse to an acute allergen based-model of airway inflammation that exhibits many features of asthma, we utilized this tool to characterize the phenotype of so-called asthmatic BSMCs. First, we examined the biophysical properties of single BSMCs from allergen sensitized mice and found increases in basal tone and cell size that were sustained ex vivo. We then generated for the first time, a comprehensive characterization of the global gene expression changes in BSMCs isolated from the bi-fluorescent mice with allergic airway inflammation. Using statistical methods and pathway analysis, we identified a number of differentially expressed mRNAs in BSMCs from allergen sensitized mice that code for key candidate proteins underlying changes in matrix formation, contractility, and immune responses. Ultimately, this tool will provide direction and guidance for the logical development of new markers and approaches for studying human lung smooth muscle.