Stretch-induced alternative splicing of serum response factor promotes bronchial myogenesis and is defective in lung hypoplasia

J Clin Invest. 2000 Dec;106(11):1321-30. doi: 10.1172/JCI8893.


Smooth muscle (SM) develops only in organs and sites that sustain mechanical tensions. Therefore, we determined the role of stretch in mouse and human bronchial myogenesis. Sustained stretch induced expression of SM proteins in undifferentiated mesenchymal cells and accelerated the differentiation of cells undergoing myogenesis. Moreover, bronchial myogenesis was entirely controlled in lung organ cultures by the airway intraluminal pressure. Serum response factor (SRF) is a transcription factor critical for the induction of muscle-specific gene expression. Recently, a SRF-truncated isoform produced by alternative splicing of exon 5 has been identified (SRFDelta5). Here we show that undifferentiated mesenchymal cells synthesize both SRF and SRFDelta5 but that SRFDelta5 synthesis is suppressed during bronchial myogenesis in favor of increased SRF production. Stretch induces the same change in SRF alternative splicing, and its myogenic effect is abrogated by overexpressing SRFDelta5. Furthermore, human hypoplastic lungs related to conditions that hinder cell stretching continue to synthesize SRFDelta5 and show a marked decrease in bronchial and interstitial SM cells and their ECM product, tropoelastin. Taken together, our findings indicate that stretch plays a critical role in SM myogenesis and suggest that its decrease precludes normal bronchial muscle development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Dextrans / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung / abnormalities
  • Lung / embryology
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / drug effects
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Muscle Proteins / genetics
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Smooth / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Serum Response Factor
  • Stress, Mechanical*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Dextrans
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Serum Response Factor
  • RNA