RNA Seq profiling reveals a novel expression pattern of TGF-β target genes in human blood eosinophils

Zhong Jian Shen, Jie Hu, Stephane Esnault, Igor Dozmorov, James S. Malter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Despite major advances in our understanding of TGF-β signaling in multiple cell types, little is known about the direct target genes of this pathway in human eosinophils. These cells constitute the major inflammatory component present in the sputum and lung of active asthmatics and their numbers correlate well with disease severity. During the transition from acute to chronic asthma, TGF-β levels rise several fold in the lung which drives fibroblasts to produce extracellular matrix (ECM) and participate in airway and parenchymal remodeling. In this report, we use purified blood eosinophils from healthy donors and analyze baseline and TGF-β responsive genes by RNA Seq, and demonstrate that eosinophils (PBE) express 7981 protein-coding genes of which 178 genes are up-regulated and 199 genes are down-regulated by TGF-β. While 18 target genes have been previously associated with asthma and eosinophilic disorders, the vast majority have been implicated in cell death and survival, differentiation, and cellular function. Ingenuity pathway analysis revealed that 126 canonical pathways are activated by TGF-β including iNOS, TREM1, p53, IL-8 and IL-10 signaling. As TGF-β is an important cytokine for eosinophil function and survival, and pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis, our results represent a significant step toward the identification of novel TGF-β responsive genes and provide a potential therapeutic opportunity by selectively targeting relevant genes and pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Asthma
  • Blood
  • Eosinophils
  • Gene expression
  • Human
  • RNA-Seq
  • TGF-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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