Yin Chen
Assistant Professor, BIO5 Institute
Member of the Graduate Faculty
Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Primary Department
(520) 626-4715
Research Interest
Yin Chen, PhD. is an Assistant Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology in the College of Pharmacy at UA. Dr. Chen’s research focus is on epithelial biology. He was a research faculty in University of California, Davis and an Assistant Investigator in Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (former CIIT and later Hamner Institute). His long-term research objective is to understand the dysfunction of airway epithelial mucosa in the pathogenesis of a variety of acute and chronic airway diseases. His current research programs are: a) understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying airway mucous cell development and mucous cell metaplasia in chronic diseases including cancer, COPD and asthma; (b) understanding the function and regulation of novel COPD associated genes and developing novel compounds to treat COPD; (c) understanding the impact of fungal exposure on airway innate immunity and its contribution to the development and exacerbation of asthma. Dr. Chen has more than 30 publications including peer-reviewed research articles, reviews and book chapters. He has served as the PI on one R01, two R21, one Flight Attendant Medical Institute (FAMRI) Innovative Clinical Award and one Arizona Biomedical Research Commission Award. He has also served as co-PI on two R01 and one P01 grants. He has built a long productive track record in studying airway mucus production and respiratory viral infection using primary airway epithelial cell model. He routinely cultivate and use primary epithelial cells from eye, salivary gland, airway surface and submucosal gland in different species (e.g. human, monkey, pig, rat and mouse) as our in vitro model to study mucin genes. The differentiated primary culture model demonstrates pseudostratified morphology, is composed of ciliated, non-ciliated, and goblet cells, and has a transepithelial barrier with high electro-resistance. He has also established in vivo exposure system to study the pulmonary effect of the exposure to particulates, pathogens and gases. Using this system, he has developed various airway disease models including CS-induced COPD model, ovalbumin-induced asthma model, fungal-induced asthma model and several infection models such as H1N1, rhinovirus, Aspergillus, and Alternaria.


Harper, R. W., Changhong, X. u., Eiserich, J. P., Chen, Y., Kao, C., Thai, P., Setiadi, H., & Reen, W. u. (2005). Differential regulation of dual NADPH oxidases/peroxidases, Duox1 and Duox2, by Th1 and Th2 cytokines in respiratory tract epithelium. FEBS Letters, 579(21), 4911-4917.

PMID: 16111680;Abstract:

Partially reduced metabolites of molecular oxygen, superoxide (O 2.-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), are detected in respiratory tract lining fluid, and it is assumed that these are key components of innate immunity. Whether these reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced specifically by the respiratory epithelium in response to infection, or are a non-specific by-product of oxidant-producing inflammatory cells is not well characterized. Increasing evidence supports the hypothesis that the dual function NAD(P)H oxidases/peroxidases, Duox1 and Duox2, are important sources of regulated H2O2 production in respiratory tract epithelium. However, no studies to date have characterized the regulation of Duox gene expression. Accordingly, we examined Duox1 and Duox2 mRNA expression by real-time PCR in primary respiratory tract epithelial cultures after treatment with multiple cytokines. Herein, we determined that Duox1 expression was increased several-fold by treatment with the Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-13, whereas Duox2 expression was highly induced following treatment with the Th1 cytokine IFN-γ. Duox2 expression was also elevated by polyinosine-polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)) and rhinovirus infection. Diphenyleneiodonium (DPI)-inhibitable apical H2O2 production was similarly increased by the addition of Th1 or Th2 cytokines. These results demonstrate for the first time the regulation of Duox expression by immunomodulatory Th1 and Th2 cytokines, and suggest a mechanism by which ROS production can be regulated in the respiratory tract as part of the host defense response. © 2005 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

Zhou, X., Lizarraga, R., Zhu, L., & Chen, Y. (2017). Human Airway Epithelial Cells Direct Significant Rhinovirus Replication in Monocytic Cells by Enhancing ICAM1 Expression. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology. doi:10.1165/rcmb.2016-0271OC

Human rhinovirus (RV) is the major cause of common cold, and it also plays a significant role in asthma and asthma exacerbation. Airway epithelium is the primary site of RV infection and production. In contrast, monocytic cells (e.g. monocytes and macrophages) are believed to be non-permissive for RV replication. Instead, RV has been shown to modulate inflammatory gene expressions in these cells via a replication-independent mechanism. In the present study, RV16 (a major-group RV) replication was found to be significantly enhanced in monocytes when co-cultivated with airway epithelial cells. This effect appeared to be mediated by secretory components from epithelial cells, which stimulated RV16 replication and significantly elevated the expression of a number of proinflammatory cytokines. The lack of such effect on RV1A, a minor-group RV that enters the cell by a different receptor, suggests that ICAM1, the receptor for major-group RVs, may be involved. Indeed, conditioned media from epithelial cells significantly increased ICAM1 expression in monocytes. Consistently, ICAM1 overexpression and ICAM1 knockdown enhanced and blocked RV production, respectively, confirming the role of ICAM1 in this process. Thus, this is the first report demonstrating that airway epithelial cells direct significant RV16 replication in monocytic cells via an ICAM1-dependent mechanism. This finding will open a new venue for the study of RV infection in airway disease and its exacerbation.

Chen, Y., Zhao, Y. H., Di, Y. -., & Wu, R. (2001). Characterization of human mucin 5B gene expression in airway epithelium and the genomic clone of the amino-terminal and 5′-flanking region. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 25(5), 542-553.

PMID: 11713095;Abstract:

Human mucin (MUC) 5B gene expression in human airway epithelium was studied in both tissue sections and cultures of tracheobronchial epithelial (TBE) cells. In situ hybridization demonstrated that MUC5B message was expressed mainly in the mucous cells of submucosal glands of normal human airway tissues. Nevertheless, an elevated MUC5B message level could be seen in surface goblet cells from patients with airway diseases and inflammation. Regardless of the airway tissue sources, MUC5B message was regulated by all-trans-retinoic acid (RA) and culture conditions in both primary and passage-1 cultures of TBE cells. MUC5B message, to a lesser extent, was also found in the immortalized epithelial cell line HBE1, but not in BEAS-2B cells. To elucidate the molecular mechanism of MUC5B gene expression, a genomic clone was obtained and sequenced for the amino terminal and the 5′-flanking region of MUC5B gene. A luciferase reporter construct containing 4,169 base pairs of the 5′-flanking region of MUC5B gene demonstrated a cell type-specific basal promoter activity in transfection studies. Both RA and the air-liquid interface culture condition further enhanced this promoter activity. These results suggest that the 5′-flanking region of MUC5B gene contains cis-elements that are potentially involved in the regulation of MUC5B gene expression.

Chen, Y., Vasquez, M. M., Zhu, L., Lizarraga, R. E., Krutzsch, M., Einspahr, J., Alberts, D. S., Di, P. Y., Martinez, F. D., & Guerra, S. (2017). Effects of Retinoids on Augmentation of Club Cell Secretory Protein. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine.
BIO5 Collaborators
Yin Chen, Stefano Guerra
Velichko, S., Zhou, X., Zhu, L., Anderson, J. D., Wu, R., & Chen, Y. (2016). A Novel Nuclear Function for the Interleukin-17 Signaling Adaptor Protein Act1. PloS one, 11(10), e0163323.

In the context of the human airway, interleukin-17A (IL-17A) signaling is associated with severe inflammation, as well as protection against pathogenic infection, particularly at mucosal surfaces such as the airway. The intracellular molecule Act1 has been demonstrated to be an essential mediator of IL-17A signaling. In the cytoplasm, it serves as an adaptor protein, binding to both the intracellular domain of the IL-17 receptor as well as members of the canonical nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathway. It also has enzymatic activity, and serves as an E3 ubiquitin ligase. In the context of airway epithelial cells, we demonstrate for the first time that Act1 is also present in the nucleus, especially after IL-17A stimulation. Ectopic Act1 expression can also increase the nuclear localization of Act1. Act1 can up-regulate the expression and promoter activity of a subset of IL-17A target genes in the absence of IL-17A signaling in a manner that is dependent on its N- and C-terminal domains, but is NF-κB independent. Finally, we show that nuclear Act1 can bind to both distal and proximal promoter regions of DEFB4, one of the IL-17A responsive genes. This transcriptional regulatory activity represents a novel function for Act1. Taken together, this is the first report to describe a non-adaptor function of Act1 by directly binding to the promoter region of IL-17A responsive genes and directly regulate their transcription.