The potential interaction of MARCKS-related peptide and diltiazem on acrolein-induced airway mucus hypersecretion in rats.
Mucus hypersecretion is a crucial feature of pulmonary diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and cystic fibrosis. Despite much research, there is still no effective therapy for this condition. Recently, we showed that the myristoylated, alanine-rich C-kinase substrate (MARCKS) protein is required for mucus secretion by human bronchial epithelial cells in culture. Having synthesized a peptide corresponding to the N-terminal domain of MARCKS, we now show that the intratracheal instillation of this peptide blocks mucus hypersecretion in a mouse model of asthma. A missense peptide with the same amino acid composition has no effect. Based on quantitative histochemical analysis of the mouse airways, the peptide seems to act by blocking mucus release from goblet cells, possibly by inhibiting the attachment of MARCKS to membranes of intracellular mucin granules. These results support a pivotal role for MARCKS protein, specifically its N-terminal region, in modulating this secretory process in mammalian airways. Intratracheal administration of this MARCKS-related peptide could therapeutically reduce mucus secretion in the airways of human patients with asthma, chronic bronchitis and cystic fibrosis.