Allergen-induced DNA release by the airway epithelium amplifies type 2 immunity

Yotesawee Srisomboon, Koji Iijima, Mathia Colwell, Peter J. Maniak, Marissa Macchietto, Christopher Faulk, Hirohito Kita, Scott M. O'Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Alternaria alternata and house dust mite exposure evokes IL-33 secretion from the airway epithelium, which functions as an alarmin to stimulate type 2 immunity. Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is also an alarmin that intensifies inflammation in cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma. Objective: We investigated the mechanisms underlying allergen-evoked DNA mobilization and release from the airway epithelium and determined the role of eDNA in type 2 immunity. Methods: Human bronchial epithelial (hBE) cells were used to characterize allergen-induced DNA mobilization and extracellular release using comet assays to measure DNA fragmentation, Qubit double-stranded DNA assays to measure DNA release, and DNA sequencing to determine eDNA composition. Mice were used to investigate the role of eDNA in type 2 immunity. Results: Alternaria extract rapidly induces mitochondrial and nuclear DNA release from human bronchial epithelial cells, whereas house dust mite extract induces mitochondrial DNA release. Caspase-3 is responsible for nuclear DNA fragmentation and becomes activated after cleavage by furin. Analysis of secreted nuclear DNA showed disproportionally higher amounts of promotor and exon sequences and lower intron and intergenic regions compared to predictions of random DNA fragmentation. In mice, Alternaria-induced type 2 immune responses were blocked by pretreatment with a DNA scavenger. In caspase-3–deficient mice, Alternaria-induced DNA release was suppressed. Furthermore, intranasal administration of mouse genomic DNA with Alternaria amplified secretion of IL-5 and IL-13 into bronchoalveolar lavage fluid while DNA alone had no effect. Conclusion: These findings highlight a novel, allergen-induced mechanism of rapid DNA release that amplifies type 2 immunity in airways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-508.e6
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Alternaria
  • Asthma
  • allergic inflammation
  • caspase-3
  • furin
  • house dust mite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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