Profiling target genes of FGF18 in the postnatal mouse lung: possible relevance for alveolar development

Physiol Genomics. 2011 Nov 7;43(21):1226-40. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00034.2011. Epub 2011 Aug 30.


Better understanding alveolarization mechanisms could help improve prevention and treatment of diseases characterized by reduced alveolar number. Although signaling through fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptors is essential for alveolarization, involved ligands are unidentified. FGF18, the expression of which peaks coincidentally with alveolar septation, is likely to be involved. Herein, a mouse model with inducible, lung-targeted FGF18 transgene was used to advance the onset of FGF18 expression peak, and genome-wide expression changes were determined by comparison with littermate controls. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to confirm expression changes of selected up- and downregulated genes and to determine their expression profiles in the course of lung postnatal development. This allowed identifying so-far unknown target genes of the factor, among which a number are known to be involved in alveolarization. The major target was adrenomedullin, a promoter of lung angiogenesis and alveolar development, whose transcript was increased 6.9-fold. Other genes involved in angiogenesis presented marked expression increases, including Wnt2 and cullin2. Although it appeared to favor cell migration notably through enhanced expression of Snai1/2, FGF18 also induced various changes consistent with prevention of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Together with antifibrotic effects driven by induction of E prostanoid receptor 2 and repression of numerous myofibroblast markers, this could prevent alveolar septation-driving mechanisms from becoming excessive and deleterious. Last, FGF18 up- or downregulated genes of extracellular matrix components and epithelial cell markers previously shown to be up- or downregulated during alveolarization. These findings therefore argue for an involvement of FGF18 in the control of various developmental events during the alveolar stage.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Doxycycline / pharmacology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental* / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / growth & development*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transgenes / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • fibroblast growth factor 18
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Doxycycline