Fibrillin-2 is a key mediator of smooth muscle extracellular matrix homeostasis during mouse tracheal tubulogenesis

Yin W, Kim HT, Wang S, Gunawan F, Li R, Buettner C, Grohmann B, Sengle G, Sinner D, Offermanns S, Stainier DYR

Eur. Respir. J. 2019 Mar;53(3)

PMID: 30578393

Abstract

Epithelial tubes, comprised of polarised epithelial cells around a lumen, are crucial for organ function. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying tube formation remain largely unknown. Here, we report on the function of fibrillin (FBN)2, an extracellular matrix (ECM) glycoprotein, as a critical regulator of tracheal tube formation.We performed a large-scale forward genetic screen in mouse to identify regulators of respiratory organ development and disease. We identified mutants which exhibit shorter and narrowed tracheas as well as defects in tracheal smooth muscle cell alignment and polarity.We found that FBN2 is essential for elastic fibre formation and Fibronectin accumulation around tracheal smooth muscle cells. These processes appear to be regulated at least in part through inhibition of p38-mediated upregulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), as pharmacological decrease of p38 phosphorylation or MMP activity partially attenuated the mutant tracheal phenotypes. Analysis of human tracheal tissues indicates that a decrease in ECM proteins, including FBN2 and Fibronectin, is associated with tracheomalacia.Our findings provide novel insights into the role of ECM homeostasis in mesenchymal cell polarisation during tracheal tubulogenesis.

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