Tollip interaction with STAT3: a novel mechanism to regulate human airway epithelial responses to type 2 cytokines

Niccolette Schaunaman, Kris Genelyn Dimasuay, Monica Kraft, Hong Wei Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Toll-interacting protein (Tollip) is one of the key negative regulators in host innate immunity. Genetic variation of Tollip has been associated with less Tollip expression and poor lung function in asthmatic patients, but little is known about the role of Tollip in human airway type 2 inflammatory response, a prominent feature in allergic asthma. Objective: Our goal was to determine the role and underlying mechanisms of Tollip in human airway epithelial responses such as eotaxin to type 2 cytokine IL-13. Methods: Tollip deficient primary human airway epithelial cells from 4 healthy donors were generated by the gene knockdown approach and stimulated with IL-13 to measure activation of transcription factor STAT3, and eotaxin-3, an eosinophilic chemokine. Results: Following IL-13 treatment, Tollip deficient cells had significantly higher levels of STAT3 activation and eotaxin-3 than the scrambled control counterpart, which was reduced by a STAT3 inhibitor. Interaction between Tollip and STAT3 proteins was identified by co-immunoprecipitation. Conclusion: Our results, for the first time, suggest that Tollip inhibits excessive eotaxin-3 induction by IL-13, in part through the interaction and inhibition of STAT3. These findings lend evidence to the potential of a STAT3 inhibitor as a therapeutic target, especially for type 2 inflammation-high asthmatics with Tollip deficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Airway epithelial cells
  • IL-13
  • Protein–protein interaction
  • STAT3
  • Tollip
  • Type 2 inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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