NPAS3 is a trachealess homolog critical for lung development and homeostasis.
Trachealess (Trh) is a PAS domain transcription factor regulating Drosophila tracheogenesis. No other Trh homolog has been associated with a respiratory phenotype. Seeking homolog(s) regulating lung development, we screened murine genomic DNA using trh oligonucleotides, identifying only Npas3. Npas3 mRNA peaks in lung from E10.5 to E13.5, verified by sequencing, with immunostaining in airway epithelial cells. Npas3-null mice have reduced lung branching morphogenesis but are viable prenatally. Npas3-null newborns die in respiratory distress, with diminished alveolarization, decreased Shh, Fgf9, Fgf10, and Bmp4 mRNAs, and increased Spry2, consistent with reduced FGF signaling. Exogenous FGF10 rescues branching morphogenesis in Npas3-null lungs. In promoter reporter assays, NPAS3 directly upregulates Shh and represses Spry2. Npas3(+/-) mice have a milder lung phenotype, surviving postnatally, but develop emphysema and airways hyperreactivity. Therefore, absence of a developmentally expressed transcription factor can alter downstream gene expression and multiple signaling pathways in organogenesis. NPAS3 haploinsufficiency may also lead to emphysema and asthma.
Zhou, S; Degan, S; Potts, EN; Foster, WM; Sunday, ME
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