Expression of transforming growth factor-beta 1, -beta 2, and -beta 3 mRNA and protein in the murine lung

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1991 Dec;5(6):522-30. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb/5.6.522.


Evidence has accumulated suggesting that the various isoforms of beta-type transforming growth factors (TGF-beta s) regulate important functions in the lung; however, the cellular source of these proteins is not well defined. Northern blot analysis of murine lung tissue demonstrates that mRNA transcripts for all three TGF-beta isoforms are found from birth through adulthood. Although the level of expression for each TGF-beta is variable during the first 2 wk post partum, all three isoforms are equal in the adult lung. Using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis, we have localized both mRNA and protein expression for all three isoforms of TGF-beta in the adult murine lung. At low magnification, immunohistochemical localization of TGF-beta proteins appears coincident in their pattern of expression with TGF-beta mRNAs in the large proximal conducting airways of the lung. However, on closer analysis, protein expression of all three TGF-beta isoforms is confined to the bronchiolar epithelium, while TGF-beta mRNA transcripts for each of the TGF-beta genes are found in smooth muscle cells and connective tissue fibroblasts lying subjacent to the epithelium. Although the levels of both TGF-beta mRNA and protein expression are high in the proximal bronchiolar tree, their signal intensities completely disappear as the terminal bronchioles progress to respiratory bronchioles. Additionally, in the lung vasculature, there is very high expression of all three TGF-beta mRNA transcripts in the smooth muscle cells of the large vessels. TGF-beta2 and TGF-beta but not TGF-beta1 proteins are expressed in these same smooth muscle cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / analysis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / biosynthesis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta