Article

Airway Epithelial Transcription Factor NK2 Homeobox 1 Inhibits Mucous Cell Metaplasia and Th2 Inflammation

Perinatal Institute, Divisions of Neonatology, Perinatal, and Pulmonary Biology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Impact Factor: 11.99). 05/2011; 184(4):421-9. DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201101-0106OC
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Airway mucous cell metaplasia and chronic inflammation are pathophysiological features that influence morbidity and mortality associated with asthma and other chronic pulmonary disorders. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms regulating mucous metaplasia and hypersecretion provides the scientific basis for diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities to improve the care of chronic pulmonary diseases.
To determine the role of the airway epithelial–specific transcription factor NK2 homeobox 1 (NKX2-1, also known as thyroid transcription factor-1 [TTF-1]) in mucous cell metaplasia and lung inflammation.
Expression of NKX2-1 in airway epithelial cells from patients with asthma was analyzed. NKX2-1 +/-gene targeted or transgenic mice expressing NKX2-1 in conducting airway epithelial cells were sensitized to the aeroallergen ovalbumin. In vitro studies were used to identify mechanisms by which NKX2-1 regulates mucous cell metaplasia and inflammation.
NKX2-1 was suppressed in airway epithelial cells from patients with asthma. Reduced expression of NKX2-1 in heterozygous NKX2-1 +/- gene targeted mice increased mucous metaplasia in the small airways after pulmonary sensitization to ovalbumin. Conversely, mucous cell metaplasia induced by aeroallergen was inhibited by expression of NKX2-1 in the respiratory epithelium in vivo. Genome-wide mRNA analysis of lung tissue from ovalbumin-treated mice demonstrated that NKX2-1 inhibited mRNAs associated with mucous metaplasia and Th2-regulated inflammation,including Spdef, Ccl17, and Il13. In vitro, NKX2-1 inhibited SPDEF, a critical regulator of airway mucous cell metaplasia,and the Th2 chemokine CCL26.
The present data demonstrate a novel function for NKX2-1 in a gene network regulating mucous cell metaplasia and allergic inflammation in the respiratory epithelium.

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