MTF1 Is Essential for the Expression of MT1B, MT1F, MT1G, and MT1H Induced by PHMG, but Not CMIT, in the Human Pulmonary Alveolar Epithelial Cells

Toxics. 2021 Aug 29;9(9):203. doi: 10.3390/toxics9090203.


The inhalation of humidifier disinfectants (HDs) is linked to HD-associated lung injury (HDLI). Polyhexamethylene guanidine (PHMG) is significantly involved in HDLI, but the correlation between chloromethylisothiazolinone (CMIT) and HDLI remains ambiguous. Additionally, the differences in the molecular responses to PHMG and CMIT are poorly understood. In this study, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data showed that the expression levels of metallothionein-1 (MT1) isoforms, including MT1B, MT1E, MT1F, MT1G, MT1H, MT1M, and MT1X, were increased in human pulmonary alveolar epithelial cells (HPAEpiCs) that were treated with PHMG but not in those treated with CMIT. Moreover, upregulation of MT1B, MT1F, MT1G, and MT1H was observed only in PHMG-treated HPAEpiCs. The protein expression level of metal regulatory transcription factor 1 (MTF1), which binds to the promoters of MT1 isoforms, was increased in PHMG-treated HPAEpiCs but not in CMIT-treated HPAEpiCs. However, the expression of early growth response 1 (EGR1) and nuclear receptor superfamily 3, group C, member 1 (NR3C1), other transcriptional regulators involved in MT1 isomers, were increased regardless of treatment with PHMG or CMIT. These results suggest that MTF1 is an essential transcription factor for the induction of MT1B, MT1F, MT1G, and MT1H by PHMG but not by CMIT.

Keywords: chloromethylisothiazolinone; human pulmonary alveolar epithelial cells; metal regulatory transcription factor 1; metallothionein 1; polyhexamethylene guanidine.