Background: Type 2 alveolar epithelial cells (AT2s) behave as stem cells and show clonal proliferation upon alveolar injury followed by trans-differentiation (TD) into Type 1 alveolar epithelial cells (AT1s). In the present study we identified signaling pathways involved in the physiological AT2-to-AT1 TD process. Methods: AT2 cells can be isolated from human lungs and cultured in vitro where they undergo TD into AT1s. In the present study we identified signaling pathways involved in the physiological AT2-to-AT1 TD process using Affymetrix microarray, qRT-PCR, fluorescence microscopy, and an in vitro lung aggregate culture. Results: Affymetrix microarray revealed Wnt signaling to play a crucial role in the TD process. Wnt7a was identified as a ligand regulating the AT1 marker, Aquaporin 5 (AQP5). Artificial Neural Network (ANN) analysis of the Affymetrix data exposed ITGAV: Integrin alpha V (ITGAV), thrombospondin 1 (THBS1) and epithelial membrane protein 2 (EMP2) as Wnt signaling targets. Conclusions: Wnt signaling targets that can serve as potential alveolar epithelial repair targets in future therapies of the gas exchange surface after injury. As ITGAV is significantly increases during TD and is regulated by Wnt signaling, ITGAV might be a potential target to speed up the alveolar healing process.
- Alveolar epithelial cell
- Wnt signaling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine