The extracellular matrix glycoprotein tenascin-C (TNC) has been accepted as a valuable histopathological subepithelial marker for evaluating the severity of asthmatic disease and the therapeutic response to drugs. We found an association between an adult asthma and an SNP encoding TNC fibronectin type III-D (Fn-III-D) domain in a case-control study between a Japanese population including 446 adult asthmatic patients and 658 normal healthy controls. The SNP (44513A/T in exon 17) strongly associates with adult bronchial asthma (χ2 test, P = 0.00019, Odds ratio = 1.76, 95% confidence interval = 1.31-2.36). This coding SNP induces an amino acid substitution (Leu1677Ile) within the Fn-III-D domain of the alternative splicing region. Computer-assisted protein structure modeling suggests that the substituted amino acid locates at the outer edge of the beta-sheet in Fn-III-D domain and causes instability of this beta-sheet. As the TNC fibronectin-III domain has molecular elasticity, the structural change may affect the integrity and stiffness of asthmatic airways. In addition, TNC expression in lung fibroblasts increases with Th2 immune cytokine stimulation. Thus, Leu1677Ile may be valuable marker for evaluating the risk for developing asthma and plays a role in its pathogenesis.
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