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1.  Functional Genomic Assessment of Phosgene-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice 
In this study, a genetically diverse panel of 43 mouse strains was exposed to phosgene and genome-wide association mapping performed using a high-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) assembly. Transcriptomic analysis was also used to improve the genetic resolution in the identification of genetic determinants of phosgene-induced acute lung injury (ALI). We prioritized the identified genes based on whether the encoded protein was previously associated with lung injury or contained a nonsynonymous SNP within a functional domain. Candidates were selected that contained a promoter SNP that could alter a putative transcription factor binding site and had variable expression by transcriptomic analyses. The latter two criteria also required that ≥10% of mice carried the minor allele and that this allele could account for ≥10% of the phenotypic difference noted between the strains at the phenotypic extremes. This integrative, functional approach revealed 14 candidate genes that included Atp1a1, Alox5, Galnt11, Hrh1, Mbd4, Phactr2, Plxnd1, Ptprt, Reln, and Zfand4, which had significant SNP associations, and Itga9, Man1a2, Mapk14, and Vwf, which had suggestive SNP associations. Of the genes with significant SNP associations, Atp1a1, Alox5, Plxnd1, Ptprt, and Zfand4 could be associated with ALI in several ways. Using a competitive electrophoretic mobility shift analysis, Atp1a1 promoter (rs215053185) oligonucleotide containing the minor G allele formed a major distinct faster-migrating complex. In addition, a gene with a suggestive SNP association, Itga9, is linked to transforming growth factor β1 signaling, which previously has been associated with the susceptibility to ALI in mice.
PMCID: PMC3824050  PMID: 23590305
ARDS; countermeasures; genetics; sodium absorption; lipoxygenase
2.  Novel PDE4 Inhibitors Derived from Chinese Medicine Forsythia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115937.
Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) is a crucial intracellular second messenger molecule that converts extracellular molecules to intracellular signal transduction pathways generating cell- and stimulus-specific effects. Importantly, specific phosphodiesterase (PDE) subtypes control the amplitude and duration of cAMP-induced physiological processes and are therefore a prominent pharmacological target currently used in a variety of fields. Here we tested the extracts from traditional Chinese medicine, Forsythia suspense seeds, which have been used for more than 2000 years to relieve respiratory symptoms. Using structural-functional analysis we found its major lignin, Forsynthin, acted as an immunosuppressant by inhibiting PDE4 in inflammatory and immune cell. Moreover, several novel, selective small molecule derivatives of Forsythin were tested in vitro and in murine models of viral and bacterial pneumonia, sepsis and cytokine-driven systemic inflammation. Thus, pharmacological targeting of PDE4 may be a promising strategy for immune-related disorders characterized by amplified host inflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC4280171  PMID: 25549252
4.  LPS-Treated Macrophage Cytokines Repress Surfactant Protein–B in Lung Epithelial Cells 
In the mouse lung, Escherichia coli LPS can decrease surfactant protein–B (SFTPB) mRNA and protein concentrations. LPS also regulates the expression, synthesis, and concentrations of a variety of gene and metabolic products that inhibit SFTPB gene expression. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether LPS acts directly or indirectly on pulmonary epithelial cells to trigger signaling pathways that inhibit SFTPB expression, and whether the transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP)–β (CEBPB) is a downstream inhibitory effector. To investigate the mechanism of SFTPB repression, the human pulmonary epithelial cell lines NCI-H441 (H441) and NCI-H820 (H820) and the mouse macrophage-like cell line RAW264.7 were treated with LPS. Whereas LPS did not decrease SFTPB transcripts in H441 or H820 cells, the conditioned medium of LPS-treated RAW264.7 cells decreased SFTPB transcripts in H441 and H820 cells, and inhibited SFTPB promoter activity in H441 cells. In the presence of neutralizing anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antibodies, the conditioned medium of LPS-treated RAW264.7 cells did not inhibit SFTPB promoter activity. In H441 cells treated with recombinant TNF protein, SFTPB transcripts decreased, whereas CEBPB transcripts increased and the transient coexpression of CEBPB decreased SFTPB promoter activity. Further, CEBPB short, interfering RNA increased basal SFTPB transcripts and countered the decrease of SFTPB transcripts by TNF. Together, these findings suggest that macrophages participate in the repression of SFTPB expression by LPS, and that macrophage-released cytokines (including TNF) regulate the transcription factor CEBPB, which can function as a downstream transcriptional repressor of SFTPB gene expression in pulmonary epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3824031  PMID: 23590297
acute respiratory distress syndrome; sepsis; acute lung injury; TNF; surfactant
5.  Integrative Metabolome and Transcriptome Profiling Reveals Discordant Energetic Stress between Mouse Strains with Differential Sensitivity to Acrolein-Induced Acute Lung Injury 
Molecular nutrition & food research  2011;55(9):1423-1434.
A respiratory irritant, acrolein is generated by overheating cooking oils or by domestic cooking using biomass fuels, and is in tobacco smoke, an occupational health hazard in the restaurant workplace. To better understand the metabolic role of the lung and to generate insights into the pathogenesis of acrolein-induced acute lung injury, SM/J (sensitive) and 129×1/SvJ (resistant) inbred mouse strains were exposed and the lung metabolome was integrated with the transcriptome profile. A total of 280 small molecules were identified and mean values (log 2 >0.58 or <−0.58, .p<0.05) were considered different for between-strain comparisons or within-strain responses to acrolein treatment. At baseline, 24 small molecules increased and 33 small molecules decreased in the SM/J mouse lung as compared to 129×1/SvJ mouse lung. Notable among the increased compounds was malonyl carnitine. Following acrolein exposure, several compounds indicative of glycolysis and branched chain amino acid metabolism increased similarly in both strains, whereas SM/J mice were less effective in generating metabolites related to fatty acid β-oxidation. These findings suggest management of energetic stress varies between these strains, and that the ability to evoke auxiliary energy generating pathways rapidly and effectively may be critical in enhancing survival during acute lung injury in mice.
PMCID: PMC3482455  PMID: 21823223
ARDS; Smoke Inhalation; Protein Folding; Mitochondrion; Beta-oxidation
6.  Haplotype Association Mapping of Acute Lung Injury in Mice Implicates Activin A Receptor, Type 1 
Rationale: Because acute lung injury is a sporadic disease produced by heterogeneous precipitating factors, previous genetic analyses are mainly limited to candidate gene case-control studies.
Objectives: To develop a genome-wide strategy in which single nucleotide polymorphism associations are assessed for functional consequences to survival during acute lung injury in mice.
Methods: To identify genes associated with acute lung injury, 40 inbred strains were exposed to acrolein and haplotype association mapping, microarray, and DNA-protein binding were assessed.
Measurements and Main Results: The mean survival time varied among mouse strains with polar strains differing approximately 2.5-fold. Associations were identified on chromosomes 1, 2, 4, 11, and 12. Seven genes (Acvr1, Cacnb4, Ccdc148, Galnt13, Rfwd2, Rpap2, and Tgfbr3) had single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations within the gene. Because SNP associations may encompass “blocks” of associated variants, functional assessment was performed in 91 genes within ± 1 Mbp of each SNP association. Using 10% or greater allelic frequency and 10% or greater phenotype explained as threshold criteria, 16 genes were assessed by microarray and reverse real-time polymerase chain reaction. Microarray revealed several enriched pathways including transforming growth factor-β signaling. Transcripts for Acvr1, Arhgap15, Cacybp, Rfwd2, and Tgfbr3 differed between the strains with exposure and contained SNPs that could eliminate putative transcriptional factor recognition sites. Ccdc148, Fancl, and Tnn had sequence differences that could produce an amino acid substitution. Mycn and Mgat4a had a promoter SNP or 3′untranslated region SNPs, respectively. Several genes were related and encoded receptors (ACVR1, TGFBR3), transcription factors (MYCN, possibly CCDC148), and ubiquitin-proteasome (RFWD2, FANCL, CACYBP) proteins that can modulate cell signaling. An Acvr1 SNP eliminated a putative ELK1 binding site and diminished DNA–protein binding.
Conclusions: Assessment of genetic associations can be strengthened using a genetic/genomic approach. This approach identified several candidate genes, including Acvr1, associated with increased susceptibility to acute lung injury in mice.
PMCID: PMC3137140  PMID: 21297076
acute respiratory distress syndrome; smoke inhalation; carboxyl stress; transforming growth factor-&beta signaling; ubiquitination
7.  Endothelial Dysfunction and Claudin 5 Regulation during Acrolein-Induced Lung Injury 
An integral membrane protein, Claudin 5 (CLDN5), is a critical component of endothelial tight junctions that control pericellular permeability. Breaching of endothelial barriers is a key event in the development of pulmonary edema during acute lung injury (ALI). A major irritant in smoke, acrolein can induce ALI possibly by altering CLDN5 expression. This study sought to determine the cell signaling mechanism controlling endothelial CLDN5 expression during ALI. To assess susceptibility, 12 mouse strains were exposed to acrolein (10 ppm, 24 h), and survival monitored. Histology, lavage protein, and CLDN5 transcripts were measured in the lung of the most sensitive and resistant strains. CLDN5 transcripts and phosphorylation status of forkhead box O1 (FOXO1) and catenin (cadherin-associated protein) beta 1 (CTNNB1) proteins were determined in control and acrolein-treated human endothelial cells. Mean survival time (MST) varied more than 2-fold among strains with the susceptible (BALB/cByJ) and resistant (129X1/SvJ) strains (MST, 17.3 ± 1.9 h vs. 41.4 ± 5.1 h, respectively). Histological analysis revealed earlier perivascular enlargement in the BALB/cByJ than in 129X1/SvJ mouse lung. Lung CLDN5 transcript and protein increased more in the resistant strain than in the susceptible strain. In human endothelial cells, 30 nM acrolein increased CLDN5 transcripts and increased p-FOXO1 protein levels. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 diminished the acrolein-induced increased CLDN5 transcript. Acrolein (300 nM) decreased CLDN5 transcripts, which were accompanied by increased FOXO1 and CTNNB1. The phosphorylation status of these transcription factors was consistent with the observed CLDN5 alteration. Preservation of endothelial CLDN5 may be a novel clinical approach for ALI therapy.
PMCID: PMC3095921  PMID: 20525806
ARDS; perivascular edema; vascular permeability; smoke inhalation; carboxyl stress
8.  TNFR1/Phox Interaction and TNFR1 Mitochondrial Translocation Thwart Silica-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Macrophages play a fundamental role in innate immunity and the pathogenesis of silicosis. Phagocytosis of silica particles is associated with the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), secretion of cytokines, such as TNF, and cell death that contribute to silica-induced lung disease. In macrophages, ROS production is executed primarily by activation of the NADPH oxidase (Phox) and by generation of mitochondrial ROS (mtROS); however, the relative contribution is unclear, and the effects on macrophage function and fate are unknown. In this study, we used primary human and mouse macrophages (C57BL/6, BALB/c, and p47phox−/−) and macrophage cell lines (RAW 264.7 and IC21) to investigate the contribution of Phox and mtROS to silica-induced lung injury. We demonstrate that reduced p47phox expression in IC21 macrophages is linked to enhanced mtROS generation, cardiolipin oxidation, and accumulation of cardiolipin hydrolysis products, culminating in cell death. mtROS production is also observed in p47phox−/− macrophages, and p47phox−/− mice exhibit increased inflammation and fibrosis in the lung following silica exposure. Silica induces interaction between TNFR1 and Phox in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Moreover, TNFR1 expression in mitochondria decreased mtROS production and increased RAW 264.7 macrophage survival to silica. These results identify TNFR1/Phox interaction as a key event in the pathogenesis of silicosis that prevents mtROS formation and reduces macrophage apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3977215  PMID: 24623132
9.  Functional Genomics of Chlorine-induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice 
Acute lung injury can be induced indirectly (e.g., sepsis) or directly (e.g., chlorine inhalation). Because treatment is still limited to supportive measures, mortality remains high (∼74,500 deaths/yr). In the past, accidental (railroad derailments) and intentional (Iraq terrorism) chlorine exposures have led to deaths and hospitalizations from acute lung injury. To better understand the molecular events controlling chlorine-induced acute lung injury, we have developed a functional genomics approach using inbred mice strains. Various mouse strains were exposed to chlorine (45 ppm × 24 h) and survival was monitored. The most divergent strains varied by more than threefold in mean survival time, supporting the likelihood of an underlying genetic basis of susceptibility. These divergent strains are excellent models for additional genetic analysis to identify critical candidate genes controlling chlorine-induced acute lung injury. Gene-targeted mice then could be used to test the functional significance of susceptibility candidate genes, which could be valuable in revealing novel insights into the biology of acute lung injury.
PMCID: PMC3136967  PMID: 20601635
pulmonary edema; vascular permeability; terrorism countermeasures; acute respiratory distress syndrome
10.  Surfactant-Associated Protein B Is Critical to Survival in Nickel-Induced Injury in Mice 
The etiology of acute lung injury is complex and associated with numerous, chemically diverse precipitating factors. During acute lung injury in mice, one key event is epithelial cell injury that leads to reduced surfactant biosynthesis. We have previously reported that transgenic mice that express transforming growth factor α (TGFA) in the lung were protected during nickel-induced lung injury. Here, we find that the mechanism by which TGFA imparts protection includes maintenance of surfactant-associated protein B (SFTPB) transcript levels and epidermal growth factor receptor–dependent signaling in distal pulmonary epithelial cells. This protection is complex and not accompanied by a diminution in inflammatory mediator transcripts or additional stimulation of antioxidant transcripts. In mouse lung epithelial (MLE-15) cells, microarray analysis demonstrated that nickel increased transcripts of genes enriched in MTF1, E2F-1, and AP-2 transcription factor–binding sites and decreased transcripts of genes enriched in AP-1–binding sites. Nickel also increased Jun transcript and DNA-binding activity, but decreased SFTPB transcript. Expression of SFTPB under the control of a doxycycline-sensitive promoter increased survival during nickel-induced injury as compared with control mice. Together, these findings support the idea that maintenance of SFTPB expression is critical to survival during acute lung injury.
PMCID: PMC2715910  PMID: 19131640
adult respiratory distress syndrome; innate immunity; chemokine; surfactant
11.  WNT1-Inducible Signaling Pathway Protein 1 Contributes to Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury 
Although strides have been made to reduce ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI), critically ill patients can vary in sensitivity to VILI, suggesting gene–environment interactions could contribute to individual susceptibility. This study sought to uncover candidate genes associated with VILI using a genome-wide approach followed by functional analysis of the leading candidate in mice. Alveolar–capillary permeability after high tidal volume (HTV) ventilation was measured in 23 mouse strains, and haplotype association mapping was performed. A locus was identified on chromosome 15 that contained ArfGAP with SH3 domain, ankyrin repeat and PH domain 1 (Asap1), adenylate cyclase 8 (Adcy8), WNT1-inducible signaling pathway protein 1 (Wisp1), and N-myc downstream regulated 1 (Ndrg1). Information from published studies guided initial assessment to Wisp1. After HTV, lung WISP1 protein increased in sensitive A/J mice, but was unchanged in resistant CBA/J mice. Anti-WISP1 antibody decreased HTV-induced alveolar–capillary permeability in sensitive A/J mice, and recombinant WISP1 protein increased HTV-induced alveolar–capillary permeability in resistant CBA/J mice. HTV-induced WISP1 coimmunoprecipitated with glycosylated Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 in A/J lung homogenates. After HTV, WISP1 increased in strain-matched control lungs, but was unchanged in TLR4 gene–targeted lungs. In peritoneal macrophages from strain-matched mice, WISP1 augmented LPS-induced TNF release that was inhibited in macrophages from TLR4 or CD14 antigen gene–targeted mice, and was attenuated in macrophages from myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 gene–targeted or TLR adaptor molecule 1 mutant mice. These findings support a role for WISP1 as an endogenous signal that acts through TLR4 signaling to increase alveolar–capillary permeability in VILI.
PMCID: PMC3488625  PMID: 22700866
genome-wide association study; acute lung injury; acute respiratory distress syndrome
12.  Integrative Assessment of Chlorine-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice 
The genetic basis for the underlying individual susceptibility to chlorine-induced acute lung injury is unknown. To uncover the genetic basis and pathophysiological processes that could provide additional homeostatic capacities during lung injury, 40 inbred murine strains were exposed to chlorine, and haplotype association mapping was performed. The identified single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations were evaluated through transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling. Using ≥ 10% allelic frequency and ≥ 10% phenotype explained as threshold criteria, promoter SNPs that could eliminate putative transcriptional factor recognition sites in candidate genes were assessed by determining transcript levels through microarray and reverse real-time PCR during chlorine exposure. The mean survival time varied by approximately 5-fold among strains, and SNP associations were identified for 13 candidate genes on chromosomes 1, 4, 5, 9, and 15. Microarrays revealed several differentially enriched pathways, including protein transport (decreased more in the sensitive C57BLKS/J lung) and protein catabolic process (increased more in the resistant C57BL/10J lung). Lung metabolomic profiling revealed 95 of the 280 metabolites measured were altered by chlorine exposure, and included alanine, which decreased more in the C57BLKS/J than in the C57BL/10J strain, and glutamine, which increased more in the C57BL/10J than in the C57BLKS/J strain. Genetic associations from haplotype mapping were strengthened by an integrated assessment using transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling. The leading candidate genes associated with increased susceptibility to acute lung injury in mice included Klf4, Sema7a, Tns1, Aacs, and a gene that encodes an amino acid carrier, Slc38a4.
PMCID: PMC3423464  PMID: 22447970
ARDS; countermeasures; glutamine; genetics; metabolomics
13.  Toll-Like Receptor 4-Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 Signaling Contributes to Ventilator-induced Lung Injury in Mice 
Anesthesiology  2010;113(3):619-629.
The mechanisms of ventilator-induced lung injury, an iatrogenic inflammatory condition induced by mechanical ventilation, are not completely understood. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling via the adaptor protein, myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) is proinflammatory and plays a critical role in host immune response to invading pathogen and noninfectious tissue injury. The role of TLR4-MyD88 signaling in ventilator-induced lung injury remains incompletely understood.
Mice were ventilated with low or high tidal volume (HTV), 7 or 20 ml/kg, after tracheotomy for 4 h. Control mice were tracheotomized without ventilation. Lung injury was assessed by: alveolar capillary permeability to Evans blue albumin, wet/dry ratio, bronchoalveolar lavage analysis for cell counts, total proteins and cytokines, lung histopathology, and plasma cytokine levels.
Wildtype mice subjected to HTV had increased: pulmonary permeability; inflammatory cell infiltration/lung edema; and interleukin-6/macrophage-inflammatory protein-2 in the lavage compared to control. In HTV, inhibitor of κB alpha decreased whereas phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinases increased. TLR4 mutant and MyD88−/− mice showed markedly attenuated response to HTV, including less lung inflammation; pulmonary edema; and cell number, protein content, and the cytokines in the lavage. Furthermore, compared to wildtype, both TLR4 mutant and MyD88−/− mice had significantly higher inhibitor of κB alpha and reduced extracellular signal-regulated kinases phosphorylation following HTV.
TLR4-MyD88 signaling plays an important role in the development of ventilator-induced lung injury in mice, possibly through mechanisms involving nuclear factor-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways.
PMCID: PMC3726314  PMID: 20683250
14.  The Role of Metallothionein in the Pathogenesis of Acute Lung Injury 
Often fatal, acute lung injury has a complicated etiology. Previous studies from our laboratory in mice have demonstrated that survival during acute lung injury is a complex trait governed by multiple loci. We also found that the increase in metallothionein (MT) is one of the greatest noted in transcriptome-wide analyses of gene expression. To assess the role of MT in nickel-induced acute lung injury, the survival of Mt-transgenic, Mt1/2(+/+), and Mt1/2(+/+) mice was compared. Pulmonary inflammation and global gene expression were compared in Mt1/2(+/+) and Mt1/2(+/+) mice. Gene-targeted Mt1/2(+/+) mice were more susceptible than Mt1/2(+/+) mice to nickel-induced inflammation, surfactant-associated protein B transcript loss, and lethality. Similarly, Mt-transgenic mice exhibited increased survival. MAPPFinder analyses also noted significant decreases in genes involved in protein processing (e.g., ubiquitination, folding), which were greater in Mt1/2(+/+) mice as compared with Mt1/2(+/+) mice early in the progression of acute lung injury, possibly due to a zinc-mediated transcript destabilization. In contrast, transcript levels of genes associated with the inflammatory response, extracellular matrix regulation, and coagulation/fibrinolysis were increased more in Mt1/2(+/+) mice as compared with Mt1/2(+/+) mice late in the development of acute lung injury. Thus, MT ultimately improves survival in the progression of acute lung injury in mice. Transcriptome-wide analysis suggests that this survival may be mediated through changes in the destabilization of transcripts associated with protein processing, the subsequent augmentation of transcripts controlling inflammation, extracellular matrix regulation, coagulation/fibrinolysis, and disruption of surfactant homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2644192  PMID: 16166738
microarray; surfactant; inflammation; fibrinolysis; extracellular matrix
15.  Gene Expression Changes during the Development of Acute Lung Injury Role of Transforming Growth Factor β 
Rationale: Acute lung injury can occur from multiple causes, resulting in high mortality. The pathophysiology of nickel-induced acute lung injury in mice is remarkably complex, and the molecular mechanisms are uncertain.
Objectives: To integrate molecular pathways and investigate the role of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) in acute lung injury in mice.
Methods: cDNA microarray analyses were used to identify lung gene expression changes after nickel exposure. MAPPFinder analysis of the microarray data was used to determine significantly altered molecular pathways. TGF-β1 protein in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, as well as the effect of inhibition of TGF-β, was assessed in nickel-exposed mice. The effect of TGF-β on surfactant-associated protein B (Sftpb) promoter activity was measured in mouse lung epithelial cells.
Measurements and Main Results: Genes that decreased the most after nickel exposure play important roles in lung fluid absorption or surfactant and phospholipid synthesis, and genes that increased the most were involved in TGF-β signaling. MAPPFinder analysis further established TGF-β signaling to be significantly altered. TGF-β–inducible genes involved in the regulation of extracellular matrix function and fibrinolysis were significantly increased after nickel exposure, and TGF-β1 protein was also increased in the lavage fluid. Pharmacologic inhibition of TGF-β attenuated nickel-induced protein in bronchoalveolar lavage. In addition, treatment with TGF-β1 dose-dependently repressed Sftpb promoter activity in vitro, and a novel TGF-β–responsive region in the Sftpb promoter was identified.
Conclusions: These data suggest that TGF-β acts as a central mediator of acute lung injury through the alteration of several different molecular pathways.
PMCID: PMC2718437  PMID: 16100012
microarray; surfactant; fibrinolysis; extracellular matrix
16.  JUN-CCAAT/Enhancer-Binding Protein Complexes Inhibit Surfactant-Associated Protein B Promoter Activity 
The murine surfactant-associated protein B (Sftpb) gene promoter, spanning nucleotides −653 to +42, is composed of functionally distinct proximal and distal regions. Although both regions contain consensus/putative activator protein 1 (AP-1) sites, the distal, but not the proximal, region mediates the inhibition by jun proto-oncogene (JUN) of Sftpb promoter activity. In transient cotransfection assays, JUN inhibited the luciferase reporter activity of plasmid constructs containing Sftpb promoter fragments that lacked the distal putative AP-1 site, indicating that another regulatory motif mediates JUN-dependent inhibition. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and in silico analyses identified a DNA target sequence (Sftpb nucleotides −339 to −316) and transcription factors that regulate Sftpb promoter activity. The identified sequence contains a CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) consensus recognition element. Mutation of the site reduced Sftpb promoter activity and sensitivity to inhibition by JUN. Purified recombinant JUN, which did not recognize the −339 to −316 target sequence when added alone, supershifted the mobility of in vitro translated C/EBP-α and C/EBP-β proteins complexed with the identified cis-regulatory element. These findings support the idea that heterodimerization between JUN and C/EBP-α and/or C/EBP-β targets JUN to the Sftpb promoter, thereby mediating its inhibitory regulatory role.
PMCID: PMC3175569  PMID: 21148742
surfactant protein B; acute lung injury; gene regulation; pulmonary surfactant metabolism dysfunction type 1; pulmonary alveolar proteinosis
17.  Antimicrobial activity of PLUNC protects against Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection 
Epithelial antimicrobial activity may protect the lung against inhaled pathogens. The bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein family has demonstrated antimicrobial activity in vitro. PLUNC (palate, lung and nasal epithelium carcinoma associated) is a 25 kDa secreted protein that shares homology with bactericidal/permeability-increasing proteins and is expressed in nasopharyngeal and respiratory epithelium. The objective of this study was to determine whether PLUNC can limit Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in mice. Transgenic mice (Scgb1a1-hPLUNC) were generated in which human PLUNC (hPLUNC) was directed to the airway epithelium with the Scgb1a1 promoter. The human PLUNC protein (hPLUNC) was detected in the epithelium throughout the trachea and bronchial airways and in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). BALF from transgenic mice exhibited higher antibacterial activity than that from wild type littermates in vitro. Following in vivo P. aeruginosa challenge, Scgb1a1-hPLUNC transgenic mice displayed enhanced bacterial clearance. This was accompanied by a decrease in neutrophil infiltration and cytokine levels. More importantly, the over-expressed hPLUNC in Scgb1a1-hPLUNC transgenic mouse airway significantly enhanced mouse survival against P. aeruginosa induced respiratory infection. These data indicate that PLUNC is a novel antibacterial protein that likely plays a critical role in airway epithelium mediated innate immune response.
PMCID: PMC3119743  PMID: 21632717
18.  c-Kit Is Essential for Alveolar Maintenance and Protection from Emphysema-like Disease in Mice 
Rationale: Previously, we demonstrated a candidate region for susceptibility to airspace enlargement on mouse chromosome 5. However, the specific candidate genes within this region accounting for emphysema-like changes remain unrecognized. c-Kit is a receptor tyrosine kinase within this candidate gene region that has previously been recognized to contribute to the survival, proliferation, and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells. Increases in the percentage of cells expressing c-Kit have previously been associated with protection against injury-induced emphysema.
Objectives: Determine whether genetic variants of c-Kit are associated with spontaneous airspace enlargement.
Methods: Perform single-nucleotide polymorphism association studies in the mouse strains at the extremes of airspace enlargement phenotype for variants in c-Kit tyrosine kinase. Characterize mice bearing functional variants of c-Kit compared with wild-type controls for the development of spontaneous airspace enlargement. Epithelial cell proliferation was measured in culture.
Measurements and Main Results: Upstream regulatory single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the divergent mouse strains were associated with the lung compliance difference observed between the extreme strains. c-Kit mutant mice (KitW-sh/W-sh), when compared with genetic controls, developed altered lung histology, increased total lung capacity, increased residual volume, and increased lung compliance that persist into adulthood. c-Kit inhibition with imatinib attenuated in vitro proliferation of cells expressing epithelial cell adhesion molecule.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that c-Kit sustains and/or maintains normal alveolar architecture in the lungs of mice. In vitro data suggest that c-Kit can regulate epithelial cell clonal expansion. The precise mechanisms that c-Kit contributes to the development of airspace enlargement and increased lung compliance remain unclear and warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3136992  PMID: 21471107
genetic; tyrosine kinase; SASH; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; aging
19.  Glutathione deficient C57BL/6J mice are not sensitized to ozone-induced lung injury 
In this study we examined the role of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) in pulmonary susceptibility to ozone toxicity, utilizing GSH deficient C57BL/6J mice that lack the expression of glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit (GCLM). Gclm(−/−) knockout mice had 70% GSH depletion in the lung. Gclm(+/+) wild-type and Gclm(−/−) mice were exposed to either 0.3 ppm ozone or filtered air for 48 hours. Ozone-induced lung hyperpermeability, as measured by total protein concentration in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, was surprisingly lower in Gclm(−/−) mice than in wild-type mice. Lung hyperpermeability did not correlate with the degree of neutrophilia or with inflammatory gene expression. Pulmonary antioxidant response to ozone, assessed by increased mRNA levels of metallothionein 1 and 2, alpha-tocopherol transporter protein, and solute carrier family 23 member 2 (sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter) was greater in Gclm(−/−) mice than in Gclm(+/+) mice. These results suggest that compensatory augmentation of antioxidant defenses in Gclm(−/−) mice may confer increased resistance to ozone-induced lung injury.
PMCID: PMC2892220  PMID: 20417186
ozone; glutathione; mice; antioxidant genes; lung hyperpermeability
20.  Matrix Metalloproteinase-14 Mediates a Phenotypic Shift in the Airways to Increase Mucin Production 
Rationale: Induced mainly by cigarette smoking, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a global public health problem characterized by progressive difficulty in breathing and increased mucin production. Previously, we reported that acrolein levels found in COPD sputum could activate matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9).
Objectives: To determine whether acrolein increases expression and activity of MMP14, a critical membrane-bound endopeptidase that can initial a MMP-activation cascade.
Methods: MMP14 activity and adduct formation were measured following direct acrolein treatment. MMP14 expression and activity was measured in human airway epithelial cells. MMP14 immunohistochemistry was performed with COPD tissue, and in acrolein- or tobacco-exposed mice.
Measurements and Main Results: In a cell-free system, acrolein, in concentrations equal to those found in COPD sputum, directly adducted cysteine 319 in the MMP14 hemopexin-like domain and activated MMP14. In cells, acrolein increased MMP14 activity, which was inhibited by a proprotein convertase inhibitor, hexa-d-arginine. In the airway epithelium of COPD subjects, immunoreactive MMP14 protein increased. In mouse lung, acrolein or tobacco smoke increased lung MMP14 activity and protein. In cells, acrolein-induced MMP14 transcripts were inhibited by an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) neutralizing antibody, EGFR kinase inhibitor, metalloproteinase inhibitor, or mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) 3/2 or MAPK8 inhibitors, but not a MAPK14 inhibitor. Decreasing the MMP14 protein and activity in vitro by small interfering (si)RNA to MMP14 diminished the acrolein-induced MUC5AC transcripts. In acrolein-exposed mice or transgenic mice with lung-specific transforming growth factor-α (an EGFR ligand) expression, lung MMP14 and MUC5AC levels increased and these effects were inhibited by a EGFR inhibitor, erlotinib.
Conclusions: Taken together, these findings implicate acrolein-induced MMP14 expression and activity in mucin production in COPD.
PMCID: PMC2773913  PMID: 19661247
cigarette smoke; acrolein; erlotinib; mucous cell metaplasia; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
21.  Genomewide Association Analysis of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in Mice▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2009;84(5):2257-2269.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major cause of lower respiratory tract infection in infants, with about half being infected in their first year of life. Yet only 2 to 3% of infants are hospitalized for RSV infection, suggesting that individual susceptibility contributes to disease severity. Previously, we determined that AKR/J (susceptible) mice developed high lung RSV titers and showed delayed weight recovery, whereas C57BL/6J (resistant) mice demonstrated low lung RSV titers and rapid weight recovery. In addition, we have reported that gene-targeted mice lacking the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (Cftr; ATP-binding cassette subfamily C, member 7) are susceptible to RSV infection. For this report, recombinant backcross and F2 progeny derived from C57BL/6J and AKR/J mice were infected with RSV, their lung titers were measured, and quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis was performed. A major QTL, designated Rsvs1, was identified on proximal mouse chromosome 6 in both recombinant populations. Microarray analysis comparing lung transcripts of the parental strains during infection identified several candidate genes that mapped to the Rsvs1 interval, including Cftr. These findings add to our understanding of individual RSV susceptibility and strongly support a modifier role for CFTR in RSV infection, a significant cause of respiratory morbidity in infants with cystic fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2820899  PMID: 20015999
22.  Zinc deficiency increases organ damage and mortality in a murine model of polymicrobial sepsis 
Critical care medicine  2009;37(4):1380-1388.
Zinc deficiency is common among populations at high risk for sepsis mortality, including elderly, alcoholic, and hospitalized patients. Zinc deficiency causes exaggerated inflammatory responses to endotoxin but has not been evaluated during bacterial sepsis. We hypothesized that subacute zinc deficiency would amplify immune responses and oxidant stress during bacterial sepsis [i.e., cecal ligation and puncture (CLP)] resulting in increased mortality and that acute nutritional repletion of zinc would be beneficial.
Prospective, randomized, controlled animal study.
University medical center research laboratory.
Adult male C57BL/6 mice.
Ten-week-old, male, C57BL/6 mice were randomized into three dietary groups: 1) control diet, 2) zinc-deficient diet for 3 weeks, and 3) zinc-deficient diet for 3 weeks followed by oral zinc supplementation for 3 days (n = 35 per diet). Mice were then assigned to receive either CLP or sham operation (n = 15 each per diet). CLP and sham-operated treatment groups were further assigned to a 7-day survival study (n = 10 per treatment per diet) or were evaluated at 24 hours (n = 5 per treatment per diet) for signs of vital organ damage.
Measurements and Main Results
Sepsis mortality was significantly increased with zinc deficiency (90% vs. 30% on control diet). Zinc-deficient animals subject to CLP had higher plasma cytokines, more severe organ injury, including increased oxidative tissue damage and cell death, particularly in the lungs and spleen. None of the sham-operated animals died or developed signs of organ damage. Zinc supplementation normalized the inflammatory response, greatly diminished tissue damage, and significantly reduced mortality.
Subacute zinc deficiency significantly increases systemic inflammation, organ damage, and mortality in a murine polymicrobial sepsis model. Short-term zinc repletion provides significant, but incomplete protection despite normalization of inflammatory and organ damage indices.
PMCID: PMC2905048  PMID: 19242332
inflammation; cell injury; oxidants; multiple organ dysfunction score; cecal ligation and puncture
23.  Specific fluorogenic probes for ozone in biological and atmospheric samples 
Nature chemistry  2009;1:316-321.
Ozone exposure is a growing global health problem, especially in urban areas. While ozone in the stratosphere protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet light, tropospheric or ground-level ozone is toxic and can damage the respiratory tract. It has recently been shown that ozone may be produced endogenously in inflammation and antibacterial responses of the immune system; however, these results have sparked controversy owing to the use of a non-specific colorimetric probe. Here we report the synthesis of fluorescent molecular probes able to unambiguously detect ozone in both biological and atmospheric samples. Unlike other ozone-detection methods, in which interference from different reactive oxygen species is often a problem, these probes are ozone specific. Such probes will prove useful for the study of ozone in environmental science and biology, and so possibly provide some insight into the role of ozone in cells.
PMCID: PMC2904247  PMID: 20634904
24.  Nickel Mobilizes Intracellular Zinc to Induce Metallothionein in Human Airway Epithelial Cells 
We recently reported that induction of metallothionein (MT) was critical in limiting nickel (Ni)-induced lung injury in intact mice. Nonetheless, the mechanism by which Ni induces MT expression is unclear. We hypothesized that the ability of Ni to mobilize zinc (Zn) may contribute to such regulation and therefore, we examined the mechanism for Ni-induced MT2A expression in human airway epithelial (BEAS-2B) cells. Ni induced MT2A transcript levels and protein expression by 4 hours. Ni also increased the activity of a metal response element (MRE) promoter luciferase reporter construct, suggesting that Ni induces MRE binding of the metal transcription factor (MTF-1). Exposure to Ni resulted in the nuclear translocation of MTF-1, and Ni failed to induce MT in mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking MTF-1. As Zn is the only metal known to directly bind MTF-1, we then showed that Ni increased a labile pool of intracellular Zn in cells as revealed by fluorescence-activated cell sorter using the Zn-sensitive fluorophore, FluoZin-3. Ni-induced increases in MT2A mRNA and MRE-luciferase activity were sensitive to the Zn chelator, TPEN, supporting an important role for Zn in mediating the effect of Ni. Although neither the source of labile Zn nor the mechanism by which Ni liberates labile Zn was apparent, it was noteworthy that Ni increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although both N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and ascorbic acid (AA) decreased Ni-induced increases in ROS, only NAC prevented Ni-induced increases in MT2A mRNA, suggesting a special role for interactions of Ni, thiols, and Zn release.
PMCID: PMC2701961  PMID: 19097988
nickel; metallothionein; zinc; epithelium
25.  LRpath: a logistic regression approach for identifying enriched biological groups in gene expression data 
Bioinformatics  2008;25(2):211-217.
Motivation: The elucidation of biological pathways enriched with differentially expressed genes has become an integral part of the analysis and interpretation of microarray data. Several statistical methods are commonly used in this context, but the question of the optimal approach has still not been resolved.
Results: We present a logistic regression-based method (LRpath) for identifying predefined sets of biologically related genes enriched with (or depleted of) differentially expressed transcripts in microarray experiments. We functionally relate the odds of gene set membership with the significance of differential expression, and calculate adjusted P-values as a measure of statistical significance. The new approach is compared with Fisher's exact test and other relevant methods in a simulation study and in the analysis of two breast cancer datasets. Overall results were concordant between the simulation study and the experimental data analysis, and provide useful information to investigators seeking to choose the appropriate method. LRpath displayed robust behavior and improved statistical power compared with tested alternatives. It is applicable in experiments involving two or more sample types, and accepts significance statistics of the investigator's choice as input.
Availability: An R function implementing LRpath can be downloaded from
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online and at
PMCID: PMC2639007  PMID: 19038984

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