Lung emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Excess macrophage elastase MMP-12, which is predominantly secreted from alveolar macrophages, is known to mediate the development of lung injury and emphysema. Here, we discovered the endolysosomal cation channel mucolipin 3 (TRPML3) as a regulator of MMP-12 reuptake from broncho-alveolar fluid, driving in two independently generated Trpml3-/- mouse models enlarged lung injury, which is further exacerbated after elastase or tobacco smoke treatment. Mechanistically, using a Trpml3IRES-Cre/eR26-τGFP reporter mouse model, transcriptomics, and endolysosomal patch-clamp experiments, we show that in the lung TRPML3 is almost exclusively expressed in alveolar macrophages, where its loss leads to defects in early endosomal trafficking and endocytosis of MMP-12. Our findings suggest that TRPML3 represents a key regulator of MMP-12 clearance by alveolar macrophages and may serve as therapeutic target for emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
© 2022. The Author(s).