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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

HNF-3/forkhead homologue-4 influences lung morphogenesis and respiratory epithelial cell differentiation in vivo.

HNF-3/forkhead homologue 4 (HFH-4), a transcription factor of the winged helix/forkhead family, is expressed in various tissues including lung, brain, oviduct, testis, and embryonic kidney. In order to test whether the temporospatial expression of HFH-4 influences lung morphogenesis, HFH-4 was expressed in lungs of transgenic mice under control of the surfactant protein C (SP-C) promoter. The morphology of the lungs from SP-C/HFH-4 embryos (day 18 postconception) was distinctly abnormal, and the severity of the alterations correlated with the level of transgene expression as detected by in situ hybridization. At high levels of expression, HFH-4 altered epithelial cell differentiation and inhibited branching morphogenesis. Atypical cuboidal or columnar cells lined the lung periphery of SP-C/HFH-4 transgenic mice. The atypical epithelial cells seen in the SP-C/HFH-4 mice expressed thyroid transcription factor-1 and hepatocyte nuclear factor 3beta (HNF-3beta). However, surfactant proteins SP-B, SP-C, and Clara cell secretory protein, normally produced by nonciliated epithelial cells in lung parenchyma were lacking. beta-Tubulin IV, a marker of ciliated cells, stained the atypical columnar cells produced by expression of high levels of the SP-C/HFH-4 transgene. Ectopic expression of HFH-4 in developing mouse lung altered epithelial cell differentiation and morphology, restricting the expression of markers typical of nonciliated cells of the distal lung parenchyma.[1]


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