The miR-200 Family and its Targets Regulate Type II Cell Differentiation in Human Fetal Lung [Developmental Biology]

July 22nd, 2015 by Benlhabib, H., Guo, W., Pierce, B. M., Mendelson, C. R.

Type II cell differentiation and expression of the major surfactant protein, SP-A, in midgestation human fetal lung (HFL) are induced by cAMP and inhibited by TGF-β. cAMP induction of SP-A promoter activity is mediated by increased phosphorylation and DNA binding of thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1/Nkx2.1), a master regulator of lung development. To further define mechanisms for developmental induction of surfactant synthesis in HFL, herein, we investigated the potential roles of microRNAs (miRNAs, miRs). To identify and characterize differentially regulated miRNAs in midgestation HFL explants during type II pneumocyte differentiation in culture, we performed miRNA microarray of RNA from epithelial cells isolated from mid-gestation HFL explants before and after culture ± Bt2cAMP. Interestingly, the miR-200 family was significantly upregulated during type II cell differentiation; miR-200 induction was inversely correlated with expression of known targets, transcription factors ZEB1/2, and TGF-β2. miR-200 antagonists inhibited TTF-1 and surfactant proteins and upregulated TGF-β2 and ZEB1 expression in type II cells. Overexpression of ZEB1 in type II cells decreased DNA binding of endogenous TTF-1, blocked cAMP stimulation of surfactant proteins and inhibited miR-200 expression, whereas, cAMP markedly inhibited ZEB1/2 and TGF-β;. Importantly, overexpression of ZEB1 or miR-200 antagonists in HFL type II cells also inhibited LPCAT1 and ABCA3, enzymes involved in surfactant phospholipid synthesis and trafficking, and blocked lamellar body biogenesis. Our findings suggest that the miR-200 family and ZEB1, which exist in a double-negative feedback loop regulated by TGF-β, serve important roles in the developmental regulation of type II cell differentiation and function in HFL.