Mechanical stress and single nucleotide variants regulate alternative splicing of the mylk gene

Joseph B. Mascarenhas, Alex Y. Tchourbanov, Hanli Fan, Sergei M. Danilov, Ting Wang, Joe G.N. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The nonmuscle (nm) myosin light-chain kinase isoform (MLCK), encoded by the MYLK gene, is a vital participant in regulating vascular barrier responses to mechanical and inflammatory stimuli. We determined that MYLK is alternatively spliced, yielding functionally distinct nmMLCK splice variants including nmMLCK2, a splice variant highly expressed in vascular endothelial cells (EC) and associated with reduced EC barrier integrity. We demonstrated previously that thenmMLCK2variant lacks exon 11, which encodes a key regulatory region containing two differentially phosphorylated tyrosine residues (Y464 and Y471) that influence vascular barrier function during inflammation. In this study, we used minigene constructs and RT-PCR to interrogate biophysical factors (mechanical stress) and genetic variants (MYLK single-nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) that are potentially involved in regulating MYLK alternative splicing and nmMLCK2 generation. Human lung EC exposed to pathologic mechanical stress (18% cyclic stretch) produced increased nmMLCK2 expression relative to levels of nmMLCK1 with alternative splicing significantly influenced by MYLK SNPs rs77323602 and rs147245669. In silico analyses predicted that these variants would alter exon 11 donor and acceptor sites for alternative splicing, computational predictions that were confirmed by minigene studies. The introduction of rs77323602 favored wild-type nmMLCK expression, whereas rs147245669 favored alternative splicing and deletion of exon 11, yielding increased nmMLCK2 expression. Finally, lymphoblastoid cell lines selectively harboring these MYLK SNPs (rs77323602 and rs147245669) directly validated SNP-specific effects on MYLK alternative splicing and nmMLCK2 generation. Together, these studies demonstrate that mechanical stress and MYLK SNPs regulate MYLK alternative splicing and generation of a splice variant, nmMLCK2, that contributes to the severity of inflammatory injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017


  • Bioinformatics
  • Cyclic stretch
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism
  • Splicing
  • Ventilator-induced lung injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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