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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.  Profibrotic Role of miR-154 in Pulmonary Fibrosis 
In this study, we explored the regulation and the role of up-regulated microRNAs in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a progressive interstitial lung disease of unknown origin. We analyzed the expression of microRNAs in IPF lungs and identified 43 significantly up-regulated microRNAs. Twenty-four of the 43 increased microRNAs were localized to the chromosome 14q32 microRNA cluster. We validated the increased expression of miR-154, miR-134, miR-299–5p, miR-410, miR-382, miR-409–3p, miR-487b, miR-31, and miR-127 by quantitative RT-PCR and determined that they were similarly expressed in embryonic lungs. We did not find evidence for differential methylation in this region, but analysis of transcription factor binding sites identified multiple SMAD3-binding elements in the 14q32 microRNA cluster. TGF-β1 stimulation of normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF) caused up-regulation of microRNAs on chr14q32 that were also increased in IPF lungs. Chromatin immunoprecipitation confirmed binding of SMAD3 to the putative promoter of miR-154. Mir-154 was increased in IPF fibroblasts, and transfection of NHLF with miR-154 caused significant increases in cell proliferation and migration. The increase in proliferation induced by TGF-β was not observed when NHLF or IPF fibroblasts were transfected with a mir-154 inhibitor. Transfection with miR-154 caused activation of the WNT pathway in NHLF. ICG-001 and XAV939, inhibitors of the WNT/β-catenin pathway, reduced the proliferative effect of miR-154. The potential role of miR-154, one of multiple chr14q32 microRNA cluster members up-regulated in IPF and a regulator of fibroblast migration and proliferation, should be further explored in IPF.
PMCID: PMC3547095  PMID: 23043088
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; microRNA; TGF-β; WNT/β-catenin; developmental pathways
3.  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
4.  Genomic Differences Distinguish the Myofibroblast Phenotype of Distal Lung Fibroblasts from Airway Fibroblasts 
Primary human distal lung/parenchymal fibroblasts (DLFs) exhibit a different phenotype from airway fibroblasts (AFs), including the expression of high levels of α–smooth muscle actin (α-SMA). The scope of the differences between these anatomically differentiated fibroblasts, or the mechanisms driving them, has remained unknown. To determine whether the different characteristics of regional fibroblasts are predicted by distinct genomic differences in AFs versus DLFs, matched human fibroblast pairs were isolated from proximal and distal lung tissue and evaluated. Microarray analysis was performed on 12 matched fibroblast pairs (four normal and eight asthmatic samples) and validated by quantitative real-time PCR. The potential functional implications of these differences were analyzed using computational approaches. Four hundred seventy-four transcripts were up-regulated in AFs, and 611 were up-regulated in DLFs via microarray analysis. No differences in normal and asthmatic fibroblasts were evident, and the data were combined for subsequent analyses. Gene ontology and network analyses suggested distinct patterns of pathway activation between AFs and DLFs. The up-regulation of extracellular matrix–associated molecules in AFs was observed, whereas genes associated with actin binding and cytoskeletal organization were up-regulated in DLFs. The up-regulation of activated/total SMAD3 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase in DLFs may partly explain these myofibroblast-like characteristics in DLFs. Thus, marked genomic differences exist between these two populations of regional lung fibroblasts. These striking differences may help identify potential mechanisms by which AFs and DLFs differ in their responses to injury, regeneration, and remodeling in the lung.
PMCID: PMC3262668  PMID: 21757679
human lung fibroblasts; α–smooth muscle actin; microarray; SMAD; JNK; MAPK8
5.  Clara Cells Attenuate the Inflammatory Response through Regulation of Macrophage Behavior 
Chronic lung diseases are marked by excessive inflammation and epithelial remodeling. Reduced Clara cell secretory function and corresponding decreases in the abundance of the major Clara cell secretory protein (CCSP) are characteristically seen in these disease states. We sought to define the impact of Clara cell and CCSP depletion on regulation of the lung inflammatory response. We used chemical and genetic mouse models of Clara cell and CCSP deficiency (CCSP−/−) coupled with Pseudomonas aeruginosa LPS elicited inflammation. Exposure of Clara cell–depleted or CCSP−/− mice to LPS resulted in augmented inflammation as assessed by polymorphonuclear leukocyte recruitment to the airspace. Gene expression analysis and pathway modeling of the CCSP−/− inflammatory response implicated increased TNF-α signaling. Consistent with this model was the demonstration of significantly elevated TNF-α in airway fluid of LPS-stimulated CCSP−/− mice compared with similarly exposed wild-type mice. Increased LPS-elicited TNF-α production was also observed in cultured lung macrophages from CCSP−/− mice compared with wild-type mice. We demonstrate that macrophages from Clara cell–depleted and CCSP−/− mice displayed increased Toll-like receptor 4 surface expression. Our results provide evidence that Clara cells can attenuate inflammation through regulation of macrophage behavior, and suggest that epithelial remodeling leading to reduced Clara cell secretory function is an important factor that increases the intensity of lung inflammation in chronic lung disease.
PMCID: PMC2822978  PMID: 19423773
Clara cell; Clara cell secretory protein; inflammation; LPS; macrophage
6.  WNT5A Is a Regulator of Fibroblast Proliferation and Resistance to Apoptosis 
Usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) is a specific histopathologic pattern of interstitial lung fibrosis that may be idiopathic or secondary to autoimmune diseases and environmental exposures. In this study, we compared gene expression patterns in primary fibroblasts isolated from lung tissues with UIP histology and fibroblasts isolated from lung tissues with normal histology using expression microarrays. We found that WNT5A was significantly increased in fibroblasts obtained from UIP lung tissues compared with normal lung fibroblasts, an observation verified by quantitative real-time RT-PCR and Western blot. Because the role of WNT5A in UIP is unknown, we treated normal lung fibroblasts or UIP lung fibroblasts with WNT5A, and found that WNT5A increased proliferation as well as relative resistance to H2O2-induced apoptosis. This effect was not mediated through the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway, as WNT5A induced a decrease in β-catenin levels in the same cells. In addition, WNT5A induced increases in fibronectin and α5-integrin in normal lung fibroblasts. Collectively, our data suggest that WNT5A may play a role in fibroblast expansion and survival characteristics of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other fibrotic interstitial lung diseases that exhibit UIP histological patterns.
PMCID: PMC2778165  PMID: 19251946
gene expression; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; cell growth; apoptosis; extracellular matrix
7.  Carbon Monoxide Modulates α–Smooth Muscle Actin and Small Proline Rich-1a Expression in Fibrosis 
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a biologically active molecule produced in the body by the stress-inducible enzyme, heme oxygenase. We have previously shown that CO suppresses fibrosis in a murine bleomycin model. To investigate the mechanisms by which CO opposes fibrogenesis, we performed gene expression profiling of fibroblasts treated with transforming growth factor-β1 and CO. The most highly differentially expressed categories of genes included those related to muscular system development and the small proline-rich family of proteins. We confirmed in vitro, and in an in vivo bleomycin model of lung fibrosis, that CO suppresses α–smooth muscle actin expression and enhances small proline-rich protein-1a expression. We further show that these effects of CO depend upon signaling via the extracellular signal–regulated kinase pathway. Our results demonstrate novel transcriptional targets for CO and further elucidate the mechanism by which CO suppresses fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2701963  PMID: 19097987
carbon monoxide; heme oxygenase-1; lung fibrosis; small proline-rich protein; α-smooth muscle actin
8.  Molecular Staging of Epithelial Maturation Using Secretory Cell–Specific Genes as Markers 
Bronchiolar Clara cells undergo phenotypic changes during development and in disease. These changes are poorly described due to a paucity of molecular markers. We used chemical and transgenic approaches to ablate Clara cells, allowing identification of their unique gene expression profile. Flavin monooxygenase 3 (Fmo3), paraoxonase 1 (Pon1), aldehyde oxidase 3 (Aox3), and claudin 10 (Cldn10) were identified as novel Clara cell markers. New and existing Clara cell marker genes were categorized into three classes based on their unique developmental expression pattern. Cldn10 was uniformly expressed in the epithelium at Embryonic Day (E)14.5 and became restricted to secretory cells at E18.5. This transition was defined by induction of CCSP. Maturation of secretory cells was associated with progressive increases in the expression of Fmo3, Pon1, Aox3, and Cyp2f2 between late embryonic and postnatal periods. Messenger RNA abundance of all categories of genes was dramatically decreased after naphthalene-induced airway injury, and displayed a sequence of temporal induction during repair that suggested sequential secretory cell maturation. We have defined a broader repertoire of Clara cell–specific genes that allows staging of epithelial maturation during development and repair.
PMCID: PMC2645532  PMID: 18757308
Clara; Claudin-10; bronchiole; differentiation; lung development
9.  A Functional and Regulatory Map of Asthma 
The prevalence and morbidity of asthma, a chronic inflammatory airway disease, is increasing. Animal models provide a meaningful but limited view of the mechanisms of asthma in humans. A systems-level view of asthma that integrates multiple levels of molecular and functional information is needed. For this, we compiled a gene expression compendium from five publicly available mouse microarray datasets and a gene knowledge base of 4,305 gene annotation sets. Using this collection we generated a high-level map of the functional themes that characterize animal models of asthma, dominated by innate and adaptive immune response. We used Module Networks analysis to identify co-regulated gene modules. The resulting modules reflect four distinct responses to treatment, including early response, general induction, repression, and IL-13–dependent response. One module with a persistent induction in response to treatment is mainly composed of genes with suggested roles in asthma, suggesting a similar role for other module members. Analysis of IL-13–dependent response using protein interaction networks highlights a role for TGF-β1 as a key regulator of asthma. Our analysis demonstrates the discovery potential of systems-level approaches and provides a framework for applying such approaches to asthma.
PMCID: PMC2258452  PMID: 17921359
house dust mite; IL-13; ovalbumin; systems biology; TGF-β

Results 1-9 (9)