The human airway epithelium consists of 4 major cell types: ciliated, secretory, columnar and basal cells. During natural turnover and in response to injury, the airway basal cells function as stem/progenitor cells for the other airway cell types. The objective of this study is to better understand human airway epithelial basal cell biology by defining the gene expression signature of this cell population.
Bronchial brushing was used to obtain airway epithelium from healthy nonsmokers. Microarrays were used to assess the transcriptome of basal cells purified from the airway epithelium in comparison to the transcriptome of the differentiated airway epithelium. This analysis identified the “human airway basal cell signature” as 1,161 unique genes with >5-fold higher expression level in basal cells compared to differentiated epithelium. The basal cell signature was suppressed when the basal cells differentiated into a ciliated airway epithelium in vitro. The basal cell signature displayed overlap with genes expressed in basal-like cells from other human tissues and with that of murine airway basal cells. Consistent with self-modulation as well as signaling to other airway cell types, the human airway basal cell signature was characterized by genes encoding extracellular matrix components, growth factors and growth factor receptors, including genes related to the EGF and VEGF pathways. Interestingly, while the basal cell signature overlaps that of basal-like cells of other organs, the human airway basal cell signature has features not previously associated with this cell type, including a unique pattern of genes encoding extracellular matrix components, G protein-coupled receptors, neuroactive ligands and receptors, and ion channels.
The human airway epithelial basal cell signature identified in the present study provides novel insights into the molecular phenotype and biology of the stem/progenitor cells of the human airway epithelium.
Chlorine is a widely used toxic compound that is considered a chemical threat agent. Chlorine inhalation injures airway epithelial cells, leading to pulmonary abnormalities. Efficient repair of injured epithelium is necessary to restore normal lung structure and function. The objective of the current study was to characterize repair of the tracheal epithelium after acute chlorine injury.
C57BL/6 mice were exposed to chlorine and injected with 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU) to label proliferating cells prior to sacrifice and collection of tracheas on days 2, 4, 7, and 10 after exposure. Airway repair and restoration of a differentiated epithelium were examined by co-localization of EdU labeling with markers for the three major tracheal epithelial cell types [keratin 5 (K5) and keratin 14 (K14) for basal cells, Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP) for Clara cells, and acetylated tubulin (AcTub) for ciliated cells]. Morphometric analysis was used to measure proliferation and restoration of a pseudostratified epithelium.
Epithelial repair was fastest and most extensive in proximal trachea compared with middle and distal trachea. In unexposed mice, cell proliferation was minimal, all basal cells expressed K5, and K14-expressing basal cells were absent from most sections. Chlorine exposure resulted in the sloughing of Clara and ciliated cells from the tracheal epithelium. Two to four days after chlorine exposure, cell proliferation occurred in K5- and K14-expressing basal cells, and the number of K14 cells was dramatically increased. In the period of peak cell proliferation, few if any ciliated or Clara cells were detected in repairing trachea. Expression of ciliated and Clara cell markers was detected at later times (days 7–10), but cell proliferation was not detected in areas in which these differentiated markers were re-expressed. Fibrotic lesions were observed at days 7–10 primarily in distal trachea.
The data are consistent with a model where surviving basal cells function as progenitor cells to repopulate the tracheal epithelium after chlorine injury. In areas with few remaining basal cells, repair is inefficient, leading to airway fibrosis. These studies establish a model for understanding regenerative processes in the respiratory epithelium useful for testing therapies for airway injury.
Acute lung injury; Tracheobronchial epithelium; Re-epithelialization
Adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc) is critical for Wnt signaling and cell migration. The current study examined Apc expression during lung development, injury and repair. Apc was first detectable in smooth muscle layers in early lung morphogenesis, and was highly expressed in ciliated and neuroendocrine cells in the advanced stages. No Apc immunoreactivity was detected in Clara or basal cells, which function as stem/progenitor cell in adult lung. In ciliated cells, Apc is associated mainly with apical cytoplasmic domain. In response to naphthalene induced injury, Apcpositive cells underwent squamous metaplasia, accompanied by changes in Apc subcellular distribution. In conclusion, both spatial and temporal expression of Apc is dynamically regulated during lung development and injury repair. Differential expression of Apc in progenitor vs. non-progenitor cells suggests a functional role in cell type specification. Subcellular localization changes of Apc in response to naphthalene injury suggest a role in cell shape and cell migration.
adenomatous polyposis coli; lung development; injury; repair; airway epithelium
Since the lung is repeatedly subjected to injury by pathogens and toxicants, maintenance of pulmonary homeostasis requires rapid repair of its epithelial surfaces. Ciliated bronchiolar epithelial cells, previously considered as terminally differentiated, underwent squamous cell metaplasia within hours after bronchiolar injury with naphthalene. Expression of transcription factors active in morphogenesis and differentiation of the embryonic lung, including β-catenin, Foxa2, Foxj1, and Sox family members (Sox17 and Sox2), was dynamically regulated during repair and redifferentiation of the bronchiolar epithelium after naphthalene injury. Squamous cells derived from ciliated cells spread beneath injured Clara cells within 6–12 h after injury, maintaining the integrity of the epithelium. Dynamic changes in cell shape and gene expression, indicating cell plasticity, accompanied the transition from squamous to cuboidal to columnar cell types as differentiation-specific cell markers typical of the mature airway were restored. Similar dynamic changes in the expression of these transcription factors occurred in ciliated and Clara cells during regeneration of the lung after unilateral pneumonectomy. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that ciliated epithelial cells spread and transdifferentiate into distinct epithelial cell types to repair the airway epithelium.
naphthalene; lung injury; transcription; pneumonectomy; bronchiole
To directly test the contribution of Scgb1a1+ Clara cells to postnatal growth, homeostasis and repair of lung epithelium, we generated a Scgb1a1-CreERTM “knock-in” mouse line for lineage tracing these cells. Under all conditions tested the majority of Clara cells in the bronchioles both self-renew and generate ciliated cells. In the trachea, Clara cells give rise to ciliated cells but do not self-renew extensively. Nevertheless, they can contribute to tracheal repair. In the postnatal mouse lung it has been proposed that bronchioalveolar stem cells (BASCs) which co-express Scgb1a1 (Secretoglobin1a1) and SftpC (Surfactant Protein C), contribute descendants to both bronchioles and alveoli. The putative BASCs were lineage labeled in our studies. However, we find no evidence for the function of a special BASC population during postnatal growth, adult homeostasis or repair. Rather, our results support a model in which the trachea, bronchioles and alveoli are maintained by distinct populations of epithelial progenitor cells.
Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 20% of all human lung cancers and is strongly linked to cigarette smoking. It develops through premalignant changes that are characterized by high levels of keratin 14 (K14) expression in the airway epithelium and evolve through basal cell hyperplasia, squamous metaplasia and dysplasia to carcinoma in situ and invasive carcinoma. In order to explore the impact of K14 in the pulmonary epithelium that normally lacks both squamous differentiation and K14 expression, human keratin 14 gene hK14 was constitutively expressed in mouse airway progenitor cells using a mouse Clara cell specific 10 kDa protein (CC10) promoter. While the lungs of CC10-hK14 transgenic mice developed normally, we detected increased expression of K14 and the molecular markers of squamous differentiation program such as involucrin, loricrin, small proline-rich protein 1A, transglutaminase 1 and cholesterol sulfotransferase 2B1. In contrast, wild-type lungs were negative. Aging CC10-hK14 mice revealed multifocal airway cell hyperplasia, occasional squamous metaplasia and their lung tumors displayed evidence for multidirectional differentiation. We conclude that constitutive expression of hK14 initiates squamous differentiation program in the mouse lung, but fails to promote squamous maturation. Our study provides a novel model for assessing the mechanisms of premalignant lesions in vivo by modifying differentiation and proliferation of airway progenitor cells.
Tissue-specific stem cell (TSC) behavior is determined by the stem cell niche. However, delineation of the TSC–niche interaction requires purification of both entities. We reasoned that the niche could be defined by the location of the TSC. We demonstrate that a single CD49fbright/Sca1+/ALDH+ basal cell generates rare label-retaining cells and abundant label-diluting cells. Label-retaining and label-diluting cells were located in the rimmed domain of a unique clone type, the rimmed clone. The TSC property of self-renewal was tested by serial passage at clonal density and analysis of clone-forming cell frequency. A single clone could be passaged up to five times and formed only rimmed clones. Thus, rimmed clone formation was a cell-intrinsic property. Differentiation potential was evaluated in air–liquid interface cultures. Homogenous cultures of rimmed clones were highly mitotic but were refractory to standard differentiation signals. However, rimmed clones that were cocultured with unfractionated tracheal cells generated each of the cell types found in the tracheal epithelium. Thus, the default niche is promitotic: Multipotential differentiation requires adaptation of the niche. Because lung TSCs are typically evaluated after injury, the behavior of CD49fbright/Sca1+/ALDH+ cells was tested in normal and naphthalene-treated mice. These cells were mitotically active in the normal and repaired epithelium, their proliferation rate increased in response to injury, and they retained label for 34 days. We conclude that the CD49fbright/Sca1+/ALDH+ tracheal basal cell is a TSC, that it generates its own niche in vitro, and that it participates in tracheal epithelial homeostasis and repair.
The epithelium lining the airways of the adult human lung is composed of ciliated and secretory cells together with undifferentiated basal cells (BCs). The composition and organization of this epithelium is severely disrupted in many respiratory diseases. However, little is known about the mechanisms controlling airway homeostasis and repair after epithelial damage. Here, we exploit the mouse tracheobronchial epithelium, in which BCs function as resident stem cells, as a genetically tractable model of human small airways. Using a reporter allele we show that the low level of Notch signaling at steady state is greatly enhanced during repair and the generation of luminal progenitors. Loss-of-function experiments show that Notch signaling is required for the differentiation, but not self-renewal, of BCs. Moreover, sustained Notch activation in BCs promotes their luminal differentiation, primarily towards secretory lineages. We also provide evidence that this function of Notch signaling is conserved in BCs from human airways.
Notch signaling is active in steady state airways and increased during repairNotch is required for differentiation, but not self-renewal, of airway basal cellsNotch promotes luminal differentiation of mouse basal stem cellsOur data suggest this mechanism is conserved in human basal cells
Tendon stem cells (TSCs) have been proposed to play a major role in the development of tendinopathy, which refers to pathological changes, such as calcification, in affected tendons. Using a human TSC (hTSC) culture model, this study investigated the effects of PGE2, an inflammatory mediator present in injured tendons, on hTSC proliferation and differentiation as well as the molecular mediator for such PGE2-induced effects. We found that PGE2 treatment of hTSCs decreased cell proliferation and caused osteogenic differentiation of hTSCs in a dose- dependent manner. Also, PGE2 treatment of hTSCs induced dose-dependent BMP-2 production in culture, and moreover, addition of BMP-2 to hTSC culture decreased cell proliferation and induced hTSC differentiation into osteoblasts. Finally, addition of BMP-2 antibodies to hTSC culture treated with PGE2 nearly abolished PGE2 effects on both cell proliferation and osteogenic differentiation. Taken together, the findings of this study showed that BMP-2 mediates PGE2-induced reduction of proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of hTSCs. We suggest that such a mechanism may be partially responsible for the formation of calcified tissues in tendinopathic tendons seen in clinical settings.
Tendinopathy; tendon stem cells; proliferation; differentiation; osteogenesis
The bronchioles of the murine lung are lined by a simple columnar epithelium composed of ciliated, Clara, and goblet cells that together mediate barrier function, mucociliary clearance and innate host defense, vital for pulmonary homeostasis. In the present work, we demonstrate that expression of Sox2 in Clara cells is required for the differentiation of ciliated, Clara, and goblet cells that line the bronchioles of the postnatal lung. The gene was selectively deleted in Clara cells utilizing Scgb1a1-Cre, causing the progressive loss of Sox2 in the bronchioles during perinatal and postnatal development. The rate of bronchiolar cell proliferation was decreased and associated with the formation of an undifferentiated, cuboidal-squamous epithelium lacking the expression of markers of Clara cells (Scgb1a1), ciliated cells (FoxJ1 and α-tubulin), and goblet cells (Spdef and Muc5AC). By adulthood, bronchiolar cell numbers were decreased and Sox2 was absent in extensive regions of the bronchiolar epithelium, at which time residual Sox2 expression was primarily restricted to selective niches of CGRP staining neuroepithelial cells. Allergen-induced goblet cell differentiation and mucus production was absent in the respiratory epithelium lacking Sox2. In vitro, Sox2 activated promoter-luciferase reporter constructs for differentiation markers characteristic of Clara, ciliated, and goblet cells, Scgb1a1, FoxJ1, and Agr2, respectively. Sox2 physically interacted with Smad3 and inhibited TGF-β1/Smad3-mediated transcriptional activity in vitro, a pathway that negatively regulates proliferation. Sox2 is required for proliferation and differentiation of Clara cells that serve as the progenitor cells from which Clara, ciliated, and goblet cells are derived.
Within 1 to 4 weeks after exposure to asbestos, differentiated rodent and human tracheobronchial epithelial cells in organ culture undergo squamous metaplasia, a putative preneoplastic lesion characterized by conversion of mucociliary cell types to keratinizing cells. The exogenous addition of retinal acetate (RA) to culture medium of hamster tracheal organ cultures reverses preestablished, asbestos-induced squamous metaplasia, although data suggest that the effectiveness of RA decreases as the length of time between exposure to asbestos and initial application of RA increases. alpha-Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), inhibits squamous metaplasia caused by asbestos or vitamin A deficiency, whereas addition of methylglyoxal bis(guanylhydrazone) (MGBG), a structural analog of spermidine and inhibitor of S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase, causes an enhancement of metaplasia under both circumstances. Basal cell hyperplasia and increased incorporation of 3H-thymidine by tracheal epithelial cells also are seen after addition of the polyamines, putrescine or spermidine, to tracheal organ cultures, an observation supporting the importance of polyamines in the development of this lesion. The use of retinoids and inhibitors of ODC could be promising as preventive and/or therapeutic approaches for individuals at high risk for development of asbestos-associated diseases.
The human airway epithelium is a pseudostratified heterogenous layer comprised of ciliated, secretory, intermediate and basal cells. As the stem/progenitor population of the airway epithelium, airway basal cells differentiate into ciliated and secretory cells to replenish the airway epithelium during physiological turnover and repair. Transcriptome analysis of airway basal cells revealed high expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA), a gene not typically associated with the function of this cell type. Using cultures of primary human airway basal cells, we demonstrate that basal cells express all of the 3 major isoforms of VEGFA (121, 165 and 189) but lack functional expression of the classical VEGFA receptors VEGFR1 and VEGFR2. The VEGFA is actively secreted by basal cells and while it appears to have no direct autocrine function on basal cell growth and proliferation, it functions in a paracrine manner to activate MAPK signaling cascades in endothelium via VEGFR2 dependent signaling pathways. Using a cytokine- and serum-free co-culture system of primary human airway basal cells and human endothelial cells revealed that basal cell secreted VEGFA activated endothelium to express mediators that, in turn, stimulate and support basal cell proliferation and growth. These data demonstrate novel VEGFA mediated cross-talk between airway basal cells and endothelium, the purpose of which is to modulate endothelial activation and in turn stimulate and sustain basal cell growth.
The majority of human lung cancers arise from bronchial epithelial cells. The normal pseudostratified bronchial epithelium is composed of basal, mucous, and ciliated cells. This multi-differentiated epithelium usually responds to xenobiotics and physical injury by undergoing basal cell hyperplasia, mucous cell hyperplasia, and squamous metaplasia. One step of the multistage process of carcinogenesis is thought to involve aberrations in control of the squamous metaplastic processes. Decreased responsiveness to regulators of terminal squamous differentiation may confer a selective clonal expansion advantage to an initiated cell. We studied the effects of endogenous [e.g., transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) and serum] and exogenous [e.g., 12-O-tetradecanoyl-13-phorbol-acetate (TPA), tobacco smoke condensate, and aldehydes] modifiers of normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cell in a serum-free culture system. NHBE cells are growth inhibited by all of these compounds and induced to undergo squamous differentiation by TGF-beta 1 or TPA. In contrast, lung carcinoma cell lines are relatively resistant to inducers of terminal squamous differentiation which may provide them with a selective growth advantage. Chemical agents and activated protooncogenes (ras,raf,myc) altered the response to endogenous and exogenous inducers of squamous differentiation and caused extended cellular lifespan, aneuploidy, and/or tumorigenicity. The data suggest a close relationship between dysregulation of terminal differentiation pathways and neoplastic transformation of human bronchial epithelial cells.
The bone marrow compartment is enriched in stem and progenitor cells, and an unidentified subpopulation of these cells can contribute to lung epithelial repair. Here we identify this subpopulation and quantitate its relative contribution to injured airway epithelium. A subpopulation of adherent human and murine bone marrow cells that expresses Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP) was identified using flow cytometry. When cultured at the air-liquid interface in ex vivo cultures, Ccsp+ cells expressed type I and type II alveolar markers as well as basal cell markers and active epithelial sodium channels. Ccsp+ cells preferentially homed to naphthalene-damaged airways when delivered transtracheally or intravenously, with the former being more efficient than the latter. Interestingly, naphthalene-induced lung damage transiently increased Ccsp expression in bone marrow and peripheral circulation. Furthermore, lethally irradiated Ccsp-null mice that received tagged wild-type bone marrow contained donor-derived epithelium in both normal and naphthalene-damaged airways. This study therefore identifies what we believe to be a newly discovered cell in the bone marrow that might have airway reconstitution potential in the context of cell-based therapies for lung disease. Additionally, these data could reconcile previous controversies regarding the contribution of bone marrow to lung regeneration.
Ciliated cells play a central role in cleansing the airways of inhaled contaminants. They are derived from basal cells that include the airway stem/progenitor cells. In animal models, the transcription factor FOXJ1 has been shown to induce differentiation to the ciliated cell lineage, and the RFX transcription factor-family has been shown to be necessary for, but not sufficient to induce, correct cilia development.
To test the hypothesis that FOXJ1 and RFX3 cooperatively induce expression of ciliated genes in the differentiation process of basal progenitor cells toward a ciliated cell linage in the human airway epithelium, primary human airway basal cells were assessed under conditions of in vitro differentiation induced by plasmid-mediated gene transfer of FOXJ1 and/or RFX3. TaqMan PCR was used to quantify mRNA levels of basal, secretory, and cilia-associated genes.
Basal cells, when cultured in air-liquid interface, differentiated into a ciliated epithelium, expressing FOXJ1 and RFX3. Transfection of FOXJ1 into resting basal cells activated promoters and induced expression of ciliated cell genes as well as both FOXJ1 and RFX3, but not basal cell genes. Transfection of RFX3 induced expression of RFX3 but not FOXJ1, nor the expression of cilia-related genes. The combination of FOXJ1 + RFX3 enhanced ciliated gene promoter activity and mRNA expression beyond that due to FOXJ1 alone. Corroborating immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated an interaction between FOXJ1 and RFX3.
FOXJ1 is an important regulator of cilia gene expression during ciliated cell differentiation, with RFX3 as a transcriptional co-activator to FOXJ1, helping to induce the expression of cilia genes in the process of ciliated cell differentiation of basal/progenitor cells.
Lung epithelium; Ciliated cell differentiation; Human; FOXJ1; RFX3; Basal cell
We used an in vitro model of differentiated tracheobronchial epithelium to analyze the susceptibility of different cell types to infection with rhinoviruses (RVs). Primary cells from control subjects were cultured in an air–liquid interface to form differentiated epithelia. Suprabasal and basal fractions were separated after trypsin digestion, and cell suspensions were infected with serotypes RV16 and RV1A. These cell fractions were analyzed for expression of viral capsid protein VP2 (flow cytometry), viral replication (real-time PCR), cytokeratin-14, and intercellular adhesion molecule–1 (ICAM-1). Compared with suprabasal fraction, basal cells had increased percentages of cells staining positive for VP2 (RV1A: 37.8% versus 9.1%, P < 0.01; RV16: 12.0 versus 3.0%, P < 0.05). The average number of viral RNA copies per cell was also higher in basal cells (2.2- and 2.4-fold increase in RV1A- and RV16-infected cells, respectively) compared with suprabasal cells. Furthermore, ICAM-1 was expressed by 33.3% of basal cells, compared with 8.1% of suprabasal cells (P < 0.05). Finally, in culture models of epithelial injury (detached suprabasal cells or scratched surface), there was significantly greater replication of RV1A compared with intact cell layer. These findings demonstrate that basal cells are more susceptible to RV infection than suprabasal cells. For major group RV, this may be in part due to increased expression of ICAM-1; however, minor group RV also replicated more effectively in basal cells. These results suggest the possibility that epithelial cell differentiation is associated with the maturation of antiviral defense mechanisms.
airway epithelium; basal cells; rhinovirus; ICAM-1 expression
Tendons are traditionally thought to consist of tenocytes only, the resident cells of tendons; however, a recent study has demonstrated that human and mouse tendons also contain stem cells, referred to as tendon stem/progenitor cells (TSCs). However, the differential properties of TSCs and tenocytes remain largely undefined. This study aims to characterize the properties of these tendon cells derived from rabbits.
TSCs and tenocytes were isolated from patellar and Achilles tendons of rabbits. The differentiation potential and cell marker expression of the two types of cells were examined using histochemical, immunohistochemical, and qRT-PCR analysis as well as in vivo implantation. In addition, morphology, colony formation, and proliferation of TSCs and tenocytes were also compared.
It was found that TSCs were able to differentiate into adipocytes, chondrocytes, and osteocytes in vitro, and form tendon-like, cartilage-like, and bone-like tissues in vivo. In contrast, tenocytes had little such differentiation potential. Moreover, TSCs expressed the stem cell markers Oct-4, SSEA-4, and nucleostemin, whereas tenocytes expressed none of these markers. Morphologically, TSCs possessed smaller cell bodies and larger nuclei than ordinary tenocytes and had cobblestone-like morphology in confluent culture whereas tenocytes were highly elongated. TSCs also proliferated more quickly than tenocytes in culture. Additionally, TSCs from patellar tendons formed more numerous and larger colonies and proliferated more rapidly than TSCs from Achilles tendons.
TSCs exhibit distinct properties compared to tenocytes, including differences in cell marker expression, proliferative and differentiation potential, and cell morphology in culture. Future research should investigate the mechanobiology of TSCs and explore the possibility of using TSCs to more effectively repair or regenerate injured tendons.
At least two populations of epithelial stem/progenitor cells give rise to the lung anlage, comprising the laryngo-tracheal complex versus the distal lung below the first bronchial bifurcation. Amplification of the distal population requires FGF9-FGF10-FGFR2b-Sprouty signaling. Residual pools of adult stem cells are hypothesized to be the source of lung regeneration and repair. These pools have been located within the basal layer of the upper airways, within or near pulmonary neuroendocrine cell rests, at the bronchoalveolar junction as well as within the alveolar epithelial surface. Rapid repair of the denuded alveolar surface after injury is clearly key to survival. Strategies to enhance endogenous alveolar epithelial repair could include protection of epithelial progenitors from injury and/or stimulation of endogenous progenitor cell function. Protection with inosine or FGF signaling are possible small molecule therapeutic options. Alternatively, exogenous stem/progenitor cells can be delivered into the lung either intravenously, intratracheally, or by direct injection. Sources of exogenous stem/progenitor cells that are currently under evaluation in the context of acute lung injury repair include embryonic stem cells, bone marrow– or fat-derived mesenchymal stem cells, circulating endothelial progenitors, and, recently, amniotic fluid stem/progenitor cells. Further work will be needed to translate stem/progenitor cell therapy for the lung.
stem/progenitor cell; lung
BACKGROUND: Attention has recently been focused on the basal cells of the tracheobronchial epithelium as the mechanism of anchorage of the tall columnar cells, which themselves do not appear to form hemidesmosomes with the basement membrane of the epithelium. Residual basal cells have been described as remaining attached to the basement membrane after epithelial denudation. This led this group to formulate the hypothesis that there may be a potential plane of cleavage between the basal cells and the overlying columnar cell layer within the bronchial epithelium, which becomes disrupted in asthma. METHODS: Bronchoalveolar lavage samples were obtained during bronchoscopy from eight patients with atopic asthma and four normal controls. Ultrathin sections of lavage cell pellets were examined by electron microscopy and the number of columnar and basal cells found in each epithelial cell cluster was counted. Cytocentrifuge preparations of the lavage samples from the same subjects were also examined for free epithelial cells and epithelial cell clusters. RESULTS: Electron microscopic examination of the cell pellets showed that basal cells were present in very small numbers in the epithelial clusters in all subjects (mean 0.03 (SE 0.02)/cluster) and the ratio of columnar cells to basal cells was far greater than was encountered in the intact bronchial epithelium (167 nu 4). The cytocentrifuge preparations showed an increased number of epithelial cell clusters and epithelial cells in the asthmatic patients. Although these clusters were similar in size in the two groups of subjects (6.3 nu 5.1 cells/cluster) the ratio of free epithelial cells to cells within the cluster was higher in the non-asthmatic subjects. CONCLUSIONS: It is proposed that shedding of epithelial cells occurs along a suprabasal plane and that there is a potential plane of cleavage between the suprabasal and the basal cell layers, which might be more vulnerable to the various insults.
Common thymic epithelial progenitor/stem cells (TEPCs) differentiate into cortical and medullary thymic epithelial cells (TECs), which are required for the development and selection of thymocytes. Mature TEC lines have been widely established. However, the establishment of TEPC lines is rarely reported. Here we describe the establishment of thymic epithelial stomal cell lines, named TSCs, from fetal thymus. TSCs express some of the markers present on tissue progenitor/stem cells such as Sca-1. Gene expression profiling verifies the thymic identity of TSCs. RANK stimulation of these cells induces expression of autoimmune regulator (Aire) and Aire-dependent tissue-restricted antigens (TRAs) in TSCs in vitro. TSCs could be differentiated into medullary thymic epithelial cell-like cells with exogenously expressed NF-κB subunits RelB and p52. Importantly, upon transplantation under the kidney capsules of nude mice, TSCs are able to differentiate into mature TEC-like cells that can support some limited development of T cells in vivo. These findings suggest that the TSC lines we established bear some characteristics of TEPC cells and are able to differentiate into functional TEC-like cells in vitro and in vivo. The cloned TEPC-like cell lines may provide useful tools to study the differentiation of mature TEC cells from precursors.
We previously hypothesized that the type I keratin 16 (K16) plays a role in the process of keratinocyte activation that occurs in response to skin injury (Paladini, R.D., K. Takahashi, N.S. Bravo, and P.A. Coulombe. 1996. J. Cell Biol. 132:381–397). To further examine its properties in vivo, the human K16 cDNA was constitutively expressed in the progenitor basal layer of transgenic mouse skin using the K14 gene promoter. Mice that express approximately as much K16 protein as endogenous K14 display a dramatic postnatal phenotype that consists of skin that is hyperkeratotic, scaly, and essentially devoid of fur. Histologically, the epidermis is thickened because of hyperproliferation of transgenic basal cells, whereas the hair follicles are decreased in number, poorly developed, and hypoproliferative. Microscopically, the transgenic keratinocytes are hypertrophic and feature an altered keratin filament network and decreased cell–cell adhesion. The phenotype normalizes at ∼5 wk after birth. In contrast, control mice expressing a K16-K14 chimeric protein to comparable levels are normal. The character and temporal evolution of the phenotype in the K16 transgenic mice are reminiscent of the activated EGF receptor– mediated signaling pathway in skin. In fact, tyrosine phosphorylation of the EGF receptor is increased in the newborn skin of K16 transgenic mice. We conclude that expression of K16 can significantly alter the response of skin keratinocytes to signaling cues, a distinctive property likely resulting from its unique COOH-terminal tail domain.
skin; keratin; adhesion; wound repair; transgenic mouse
In this study, an optimized two-step enzyme digestion protocol was used to strip the surface epithelium from tracheal specimens separate from submucosal gland (SMG) cells, and the basal and duct stem/progenitors were then sorted using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Sorted stem/progenitor cells were cultured to characterize their self-renewal and differentiation ability. It was found that global inhibition of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), as well as specific inhibition of the ALDH2 isoform, inhibited self-renewal of both basal and duct cells, thereby producing fewer and smaller spheres.
Basal cells and submucosal gland (SMG) duct cells have been isolated and shown to be stem/progenitor cell populations for the murine airway epithelium. However, methods for the isolation of basal and SMG duct cells from human airways have not been defined. We used an optimized two-step enzyme digestion protocol to strip the surface epithelium from tracheal specimens separate from SMG cells, and we then sorted the basal and duct stem/progenitors using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. We used nerve growth factor receptor, as well as a combination of CD166 and CD44, to sort basal cells and also used CD166 to isolate SMG duct cells. Sorted stem/progenitor cells were cultured to characterize their self-renewal and differentiation ability. Both basal and SMG duct cells grew into spheres. Immunostaining of the spheres showed mostly dense spheres with little to no central lumen. The spheres expressed cytokeratins 5 and 14, with some mucus- and serous-secreting cells. The sphere-forming efficiency and the rate of growth of the spheres varied widely between patient samples and correlated with the degree of hyperplasia of the epithelium. We found that only aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)hi basal and duct cells were capable of sphere formation. Global inhibition of ALDH, as well as specific inhibition of the ALDH2 isoform, inhibited self-renewal of both basal and duct cells, thereby producing fewer and smaller spheres. In conclusion, we have developed methods to isolate basal and SMG duct cells from the surface epithelium and SMGs of human tracheas and have developed an in vitro model to characterize their self-renewal and differentiation.
Adult stem cells; Respiratory tract; Stem/progenitor cell; Tissue-specific stem cells; Self-renewal
In the epidermis of skin, a fine balance exists between proliferating progenitor cells and terminally differentiating cells. We examined the effects of TGF-beta s and retinoic acid (RA) on controlling this balance in normal and malignant human epidermal keratinocytes cultured under conditions where most morphological and biochemical features of epidermis in vivo are retained. Our results revealed marked and pleiotropic effects of both TGF-beta and RA on keratinocytes. In contrast to retinoids, TGF-beta s acted on mitotically active basal cells to retard cell proliferation. Although withdrawal from the cell cycle is a necessary prerequisite for commitment to terminal differentiation, TGF-beta s inhibited normal keratinization in suprabasal cells and promoted the type of differentiation commonly associated with wound-healing and epidermal hyperproliferation. The actions of TGF-beta s and RA on normal keratinization were synergistic, whereas those on abnormal differentiation associated with hyperproliferation were antagonistic. These observations underscore the notion that environmental changes can act separately on proliferating and differentiating cells within the population. Under the conditions used here, the action of TGF-beta s on human keratinocytes was dominant over RA, and TGF-beta s did not seem to be induced as a consequence of RA treatment. This finding is consistent with the fact that RA accelerated, rather than inhibited, proliferation in raft cultures. Collectively, our data suggest that the effects of both factors on epidermal growth and differentiation are multifaceted and the extent to which their action is coupled in keratinocytes may vary under different conditions and/or in different species.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)1 and TSC2 are tumor suppressors that inhibit cell growth and mutation of either gene causes benign tumors in multiple tissues. The TSC1 and TSC2 gene products form a functional complex that has GTPase-activating protein (GAP) activity toward Ras homolog enriched in brain (Rheb) to inhibit mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), which is constitutively activated in TSC mutant tumors. We found that cells with mutation in either TSC1 or TSC2 are hypersensitive to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and undergo apoptosis. Although the TSC mutant cells show elevated eIF2α phosphorylation, an early ER stress response marker, at both basal and induced conditions, induction of other ER stress response markers, including ATF4, ATF6 and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP), is severely compromised. The defects in ER stress response are restored by raptor knockdown but not by rapamycin treatment in the TSC mutant cells, indicating that a rapamycin-insensitive mTORC function is responsible for the defects in ER stress response. Consistently, activation of Rheb sensitizes cells to ER stress. Our data show an important role of TSC1/TSC2 and Rheb in unfolded protein response and cell survival. We speculate that an important physiological function of the TSC1/2 tumor suppressors is to protect cells from harmful conditions. These observations indicate a potential therapeutic application of using ER stress agents to selectively kill TSC1 or TSC2 mutant cells for TSC treatment.
TSC; mTOR; Rheb; ER stress; apoptosis
During lung development, parabronchial SMC (PSMC) progenitors in the distal mesenchyme secrete fibroblast growth factor 10 (Fgf10), which acts on distal epithelial progenitors to promote their proliferation. β-catenin signaling within PSMC progenitors is essential for their maintenance, proliferation, and expression of Fgf10. Here, we report that this Wnt/Fgf10 embryonic signaling cascade is reactivated in mature PSMCs after naphthalene-induced injury to airway epithelium. Furthermore, we found that this paracrine Fgf10 action was essential for activating surviving variant Clara cells (the cells in the airway epithelium from which replacement epithelial cells originate) located at the bronchoalveolar duct junctions and adjacent to neuroendocrine bodies. After naphthalene injury, PSMCs secreted Fgf10 to activate Notch signaling and induce Snai1 expression in surviving variant Clara cells, which subsequently underwent a transient epithelial to mesenchymal transition to initiate the repair process. Epithelial Snai1 expression was important for regeneration after injury. We have therefore identified PSMCs as a stem cell niche for the variant Clara cells in the lung and established that paracrine Fgf10 signaling from the niche is critical for epithelial repair after naphthalene injury. These findings also have implications for understanding the misregulation of lung repair in asthma and cancer.