Signaling by fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptor (FGFR) 2IIIb regulates branching morphogenesis in the mammalian lung. FGFR2IIIb is primarily expressed in epithelial cells, whereas its ligands, FGF-10 and keratinocyte growth factor (KGF; FGF-7), are expressed in mesenchymal cells. FGF-10 null mice lack lungs, whereas KGF null animals have normal lung development, indicating that FGF-10 regulates lung branching morphogenesis. In this study, we determined the effects of FGF-10 on lung branching morphogenesis and accompanying gene expression in cultures of embryonic rat lungs.
Embryonic day 14 rat lungs were cultured with FGF-10 (0–250 ng/ml) in the absence or presence of heparin (30 ng/ml) for 4 days. Gene expression profiles were analyzed by Affymetrix microchip array including pathway analysis. Some of these genes, functionally important in FGF-10 signaling, were further analyzed by Northern blot, real-time PCR, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry.
Exogenous FGF-10 inhibited branching and induced cystic lung growth only in cultures containing heparin. In total, 252 upregulated genes and 164 downregulated genes were identified, and these included Spry1 (Sprouty-1), Spry2 (Sprouty-2), Spred-1, Bmp4 (bone morphogenetic protein-4, BMP-4), Shh(sonic hedgehog, SHH), Pthlh (parathyroid hormone-related protein, PTHrP), Dusp6 (MAP kinase phosphatase-3, MKP-3) and Clic4 (chloride intracellular channel-4, CLIC-4) among the upregulated genes and Igf1 (insulin-like growth factor-1, IGF-1), Tcf21 (POD), Gyg1 (glycogenin 1), Sparc (secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine, SPARC), Pcolce (procollagen C-endopeptidase enhancer protein, Pro CEP) and Lox (lysyl oxidase) among the downregulated genes. Gsk3β and Wnt2, which are involved in canonical Wnt signaling, were up- and downregulated, respectively.
Unlike FGF-7, FGF-10 effects on lung branching morphogenesis are heparin-dependent. Sprouty-2, BMP-4, SHH, IGF-1, SPARC and POD are known to regulate branching morphogenesis; however, potential roles of CLIC-4 and MKP-3 in lung branching morphogenesis remain to be investigated. FGF-10 may also function in regulating branching morphogenesis or inducing cystic lung growth by inhibiting Wnt2/β-catenin signaling.