Variable-length poly-C tract polymorphisms of the β2- adrenergic receptor 3′-UTR alter expression and agonist regulation

Alfredo Panebra, Mary Rose Schwarb, Steven M. Swift, Scott T. Weiss, Eugene R. Bleecker, Gregory A. Hawkins, Stephen B. Liggett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


β2-Adrenergic receptors (β2-AR) expressed on airway epithelial and smooth muscle cells regulate mucociliary clearance and relaxation and are the targets for β-agonists in the treatment of obstructive lung disease. However, the clinical responses display extensive interindividual variability, which is not adequately explained by genetic variability in the 5′-flanking or coding region of the intronless β2-AR gene. The nonsynonymous coding polymorphism most often associated with a bronchodilator phenotype (Arg16) is found within three haplotypes that differ by the number of Cs (11, 12, or 13) within a 3′-untranslated region (UTR) poly-C tract. To examine potential effects of this variability on receptor expression, BEAS-2B cells were transfected with constructs containing the β2-AR (Arg16) coding sequence followed by its 3′-UTR with the various polymorphic poly-C tracts. β2Arg16-11C had 25% lower mRNA expression and 33% lower β2-AR protein expression compared with the other two haplotypes. Consistent with this lower steady-state expression, β2Arg16-11C mRNA displayed more rapid and extensive degradation after actinomycin D treatment compared with β2Arg16-12C and -13C. However, β2Arg16-12C underwent 50% less downregulation of receptor expression during β-agonist exposure compared with the other two haplotypes. Thus these haplotypes direct a potential low-response phenotype due to decreased steady-state receptor expression combined with wild-type agonist-promoted downregulation (β2Arg16-11C) and a high-response phenotype due to increased baseline expression combined with decreased agonist-promoted downregulation (β2Arg16-12C). This heterogeneity may contribute to the variability of clinical responses to β-agonist, and genotyping to identify these 3′-UTR polymorphisms may improve predictive power within the context of β2-AR haplotypes in pharmacogenetic studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L190-L195
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Transcription
  • β-agonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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