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Integrin-dependent interactions between cells and extracellular matrix regulate lung development; however, specific roles for β1-containing integrins in individual cell types, including epithelial cells, remain incompletely understood. In this study, the functional importance of β1 integrin in lung epithelium during mouse lung development was investigated by deleting the integrin from E10.5 onwards using surfactant protein C promoter-driven Cre. These mutant mice appeared normal at birth but failed to gain weight appropriately and died by 4 months of age with severe hypoxemia. Defects in airway branching morphogenesis in association with impaired epithelial cell adhesion and migration, as well as alveolarization defects and persistent macrophage-mediated inflammation were identified. Using an inducible system to delete β1 integrin after completion of airway branching, we showed that alveolarization defects, characterized by disrupted secondary septation, abnormal alveolar epithelial cell differentiation, excessive collagen I and elastin deposition, and hypercellularity of the mesenchyme occurred independently of airway branching defects. By depleting macrophages using liposomal clodronate, we found that alveolarization defects were secondary to persistent alveolar inflammation. β1 integrin-deficient alveolar epithelial cells produced excessive monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 and reactive oxygen species, suggesting a direct role for β1 integrin in regulating alveolar homeostasis. Taken together, these studies define distinct functions of epithelial β1 integrin during both early and late lung development that affect airway branching morphogenesis, epithelial cell differentiation, alveolar septation and regulation of alveolar homeostasis.
© 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
Mutation of threonine for isoleucine at codon 73 (I73T) in the human surfactant protein C (hSP-C) gene (SFTPC) accounts for a significant portion of SFTPC mutations associated with interstitial lung disease (ILD). Cell lines stably expressing tagged primary translation product of SP-C isoforms were generated to test the hypothesis that deposition of hSP-C(I73T) within the endosomal system promotes disruption of a key cellular quality control pathway, macroautophagy. By fluorescence microscopy, wild-type hSP-C (hSP-C(WT)) colocalized with exogenously expressed human ATP binding cassette class A3 (hABCA3), an indicator of normal trafficking to lysosomal-related organelles. In contrast, hSP-C(I73T) was dissociated from hABCA3 but colocalized to the plasma membrane as well as the endosomal network. Cells expressing hSP-C(I73T) exhibited increases in size and number of cytosolic green fluorescent protein/microtubule-associated protein 1 light-chain 3 (LC3) vesicles, some of which colabeled with red fluorescent protein from the gene dsRed/hSP-C(I73T). By transmission electron microscopy, hSP-C(I73T) cells contained abnormally large autophagic vacuoles containing organellar and proteinaceous debris, which phenocopied ultrastructural changes in alveolar type 2 cells in a lung biopsy from a SFTPC I73T patient. Biochemically, hSP-C(I73T) cells exhibited increased expression of Atg8/LC3, SQSTM1/p62, and Rab7, consistent with a distal block in autophagic vacuole maturation, confirmed by flux studies using bafilomycin A1 and rapamycin. Functionally, hSP-C(I73T) cells showed an impaired degradative capacity for an aggregation-prone huntingtin-1 reporter substrate. The disruption of autophagy-dependent proteostasis was accompanied by increases in mitochondria biomass and parkin expression coupled with a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential. We conclude that hSP-C(I73T) induces an acquired block in macroautophagy-dependent proteostasis and mitophagy, which could contribute to the increased vulnerability of the lung epithelia to second-hit injury as seen in ILD.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive and often fatal lung disease for which there is no known treatment. Although the traditional paradigm of IPF pathogenesis emphasized chronic inflammation as the primary driver of fibrotic remodeling, more recent insights have challenged this view. Linkage analysis and candidate gene approaches have identified four genes that cause the inherited form of IPF, familial interstitial pneumonia (FIP). These four genes encode two surfactant proteins, surfactant protein C (encoded by SFTPC) and surfactant protein A2 (SFTPA2), and two components of the telomerase complex, telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and the RNA component of telomerase (TERC). In this review, we discuss how investigating these mutations, as well as genetic variants identified in other inherited disorders associated with pulmonary fibrosis, are providing new insights into the pathogenesis of common idiopathic interstitial lung diseases, particularly IPF. Studies in this area have highlighted key roles for epithelial cell injury and dysfunction in the development of lung fibrosis. In addition, genetic approaches have uncovered the importance of several processes - including endoplasmic reticulum stress and the unfolded protein response, DNA-damage and -repair pathways, and cellular senescence - that might provide new therapeutic targets in fibrotic lung diseases.
While the factors that regulate the onset and progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are incompletely understood, recent investigations have revealed that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) are prominent in alveolar epithelial cells in this disease. Initial observations linking ER stress and IPF were made in cases of familial interstitial pneumonia (FIP), the familial form of IPF, in a family with a mutation in surfactant protein C (SFTPC). Subsequent studies involving lung biopsy specimens revealed that ER stress markers are highly expressed in the alveolar epithelium in IPF and FIP. Recent mouse modeling has revealed that induction of ER stress in the alveolar epithelium predisposed to enhanced lung fibrosis after treatment with bleomycin, which is mediated at least in part by increased alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) apoptosis. Emerging data also indicate that ER stress in AECs could impact fibrotic remodeling by altering inflammatory responses and inducing epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Although the cause of ER stress in IPF remains unknown, common environmental exposures such as herpesviruses, inhaled particulates, and cigarette smoke induce ER stress and are candidates for contributing to AEC dysfunction by this mechanism. Together, investigations to date suggest that ER stress predisposes to AEC dysfunction and subsequent lung fibrosis. However, many questions remain regarding the role of ER stress in initiation and progression of lung fibrosis, including whether ER stress or the UPR could be targeted for therapeutic benefit.
Expression of mutant surfactant protein C (SFTPC) results in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in type II alveolar epithelial cells (AECs). AECs have been implicated as a source of lung fibroblasts via epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); therefore, we investigated whether ER stress contributes to EMT as a possible mechanism for fibrotic remodeling. ER stress was induced by tunicamyin administration or stable expression of mutant (L188Q) SFTPC in type II AEC lines. Both tunicamycin treatment and mutant SFTPC expression induced ER stress and the unfolded protein response. With tunicamycin or mutant SFTPC expression, phase contrast imaging revealed a change to a fibroblast-like appearance. During ER stress, expression of epithelial markers E-cadherin and Zonula occludens-1 decreased while expression of mesenchymal markers S100A4 and α-smooth muscle actin increased. Following induction of ER stress, we found activation of a number of pathways, including MAPK, Smad, β-catenin, and Src kinase. Using specific inhibitors, the combination of a Smad2/3 inhibitor (SB431542) and a Src kinase inhibitor (PP2) blocked EMT with maintenance of epithelial appearance and epithelial marker expression. Similar results were noted with siRNA targeting Smad2 and Src kinase. Together, these studies reveal that induction of ER stress leads to EMT in lung epithelial cells, suggesting possible cross-talk between Smad and Src kinase pathways. Dissecting pathways involved in ER stress-induced EMT may lead to new treatment strategies to limit fibrosis.
Interstitial lung disease in both children and adults has been linked to mutations in the lung-specific surfactant protein C (SFTPC) gene. Among these, the missense mutation [isoleucine to threonine at codon 73 = human surfactant protein C (hSP-C(I73T) )] accounts for ∼30% of all described SFTPC mutations. We reported previously that unlike the BRICHOS misfolding SFTPC mutants, expression of hSP-C(I73T) induces lung remodeling and alveolar lipoproteinosis without a substantial Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress response or ER-mediated intrinsic apoptosis. We show here that, in contrast to its wild-type counterpart that is directly routed to lysosomal-like organelles for processing, SP-C(I73T) is misdirected to the plasma membrane and subsequently internalized to the endocytic pathway via early endosomes, leading to the accumulation of abnormally processed proSP-C isoforms. Functionally, cells expressing hSP-C(I73T) demonstrated both impaired uptake and degradation of surfactant phospholipid, thus providing a molecular mechanism for the observed lipid accumulation in patients expressing hSP-C(I73T) through the disruption of normal phospholipid recycling. Our data provide evidence for a novel cellular mechanism for conformational protein-associated diseases and suggest a paradigm for mistargeted proteins involved in the disruption of the endosomal/lysosomal sorting machinery.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most common form of the idiopathic interstitial pneumonias and remains a disease with a poor prognosis. Familial interstitial pneumonia (FIP) occurs when 2 or more individuals from a given family have an idiopathic interstitial pneumonia. FIP cases have been linked to mutations in surfactant protein C, surfactant protein A2, telomerase reverse transcriptase and telomerase RNA component. Together, mutations in these 4 genes likely explain only 15% to 20% of FIP cases and are even less frequent in sporadic IPF. However, dysfunctional aspects of the pathways that are involved with these genes are present in sporadic forms of IPF even in the absence of mutations, suggesting common underlying disease mechanisms. By serving as a resource for identifying the current and future genetic links to disease, FIP families hold great promise in defining IPF pathogenesis, potentially suggesting targets for the development of future therapies.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by progressive dyspnea, interstitial infiltrates in lung parenchyma and restriction on pulmonary function testing. IPF is the most common and severe of the idiopathic interstitial pneumonias, with most individuals progressing to respiratory failure. Multiple lines of evidence reveal prominent roles for alveolar epithelial cells (AECs) in disease. The current disease paradigm is that ongoing or repetitive injurious stimuli in the presence of a genetic or acquired dysfunctional type II AEC phenotype results in increased AEC injury/apoptosis, deficiencies in regeneration of normal alveolar structure and aberrant lung repair and fibroblast activation, leading to progressive fibrosis. Although the nature of injurious events and processes involved in aberrant repair of the alveolar epithelium are not well understood, ongoing investigations provide hope to better understand mechanisms by which AECs maintain homeostasis or contribute to fibrosis. These strategies may hold promise for developing novel treatment approaches for IPF.
A man with usual interstitial pneumonia (age of onset 58 years) was previously found to have an Ile73Thr (I73T) surfactant protein C (SFTPC) mutation. Genomic DNA from the individual and two daughters (aged 39 and 43 years) was sequenced for the I73T mutation and variations in ATP-binding cassette A3 (ABCA3). All three had the I73T SFTPC mutation. The father and one daughter (aged 39 years) also had a transversion encoding an Asp123Asn (D123N) substitution in ABCA3. The daughters were evaluated by pulmonary function testing and high-resolution CT (HRCT). Neither daughter had evidence of disease, except for focal subpleural septal thickening on HRCT scan in one daughter (aged 39 years). This daughter underwent bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsies revealing interstitial fibrotic remodeling. These findings demonstrate that subclinical fibrotic changes may be present in family members of patients with SFTPC mutation-associated interstitial lung disease and suggest that ABCA3 variants could affect disease pathogenesis.
Clinical trials demonstrated decreasing rates of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in preterm infants with hypoxic respiratory failure treated with inhaled nitric oxide (iNO). However, the molecular and biochemical effects of iNO on developing human fetal lungs remain vastly unknown. By using a well-characterized model of human fetal alveolar type II cells, we assessed the effects of iNO and hyperoxia, independently and concurrently, on NO-cGMP signaling pathway and differentiation. Exposure to iNO increased cGMP levels by 40-fold after 3 d and by 8-fold after 5 d despite constant expression of phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5). The levels of cGMP declined significantly on exposure to iNO and hyperoxia at 3 and 5 d, although expression of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) was sustained. Surfactant proteins B and C (SP-B, SP-C) and thyroid transcription factor (TTF)-1 mRNA levels increased in cells exposed to iNO in normoxia but not on exposure to iNO plus hyperoxia. Collectively, these data indicate an increase in type II cell markers when undifferentiated lung epithelial cells are exposed to iNO in room air. However, hyperoxia overrides these potentially beneficial effects of iNO despite sustained expression of sGC.