Profibrotic function of pulmonary group 2 innate lymphoid cells is controlled by regnase-1

Eur Respir J. 2021 Mar 11;57(3):2000018. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00018-2020. Print 2021 Mar.


Regnase-1 is an RNase critical for post-transcriptional control of pulmonary immune homeostasis in mice by degrading immune-related mRNAs. However, little is known about the cell types Regnase-1 controls in the lung, and its relevance to human pulmonary diseases.Regnase-1-dependent changes in lung immune cell types were examined by a competitive bone marrow transfer mouse model, and group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) were identified. Then the associations between Regnase-1 in ILC2s and human diseases were investigated by transcriptome analysis and a bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis mouse model. The clinical significance of Regnase-1 in ILC2s was further assessed using patient-derived cells.Regnase-1-deficiency resulted in the spontaneous proliferation and activation of ILC2s in the lung. Intriguingly, genes associated with pulmonary fibrosis were highly upregulated in Regnase-1-deficient ILC2s compared with wild-type, and supplementation of Regnase-1-deficient ILC2s augmented bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice. Regnase-1 suppresses mRNAs encoding transcription factors Gata3 and Egr1, which are potent to regulate fibrosis-associated genes. Clinically, Regnase-1 protein levels in ILC2 negatively correlated with the ILC2 population in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Furthermore, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients with ILC2s >1500 cells·mL-1 peripheral blood exhibited poorer prognosis than patients with lower numbers, implying the contribution of Regnase-1 in ILC2s for the progression of IPF.Collectively, Regnase-1 was identified as a critical post-transcriptional regulator of the profibrotic function of ILC2s both in mouse and human, suggesting that Regnase-1 may be a novel therapeutic target for IPF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lung
  • Lymphocytes*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis* / chemically induced