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SPDEF Tied to Overproduction of Mucus in Lung Disorders

Last Updated: September 17, 2009.

SPDEF (SAM Pointed Domain Ets-like Factor) plays an important role in regulating a transcriptional network that induces pulmonary goblet cell differentiation and overproduction of mucus, according to research published online Sept. 14 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

THURSDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- SPDEF (SAM Pointed Domain Ets-like Factor) plays an important role in regulating a transcriptional network that induces pulmonary goblet cell differentiation and overproduction of mucus, according to research published online Sept. 14 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Gang Chen, from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues discuss the results of their research on mice, which showed that expression of SPDEF in secretory epithelial cells known as Clara cells triggered prompt, reversible goblet cell differentiation without cell proliferation.

The researchers note that, in wild-type mice and Spdef +/− mice, ovalbumin sensitization led to goblet cell differentiation, but goblet cells weren't found in bronchial or bronchiolar epithelial cells in Spdef −/− mice after allergen sensitization. SPDEF was also shown to induce expression of many genes involved in regulating mucus production. The researchers further found that in bronchial tissues from patients with cystic fibrosis or diseases linked to smoking, staining for SPDEF, as well as FOXA3 and AGR2, which are linked to inflammation and excessive mucus, was increased in areas of goblet cell hyperplasia, but not in normal airway epithelium.

"Since mucus hyperproduction contributes to the pathogenesis of acute and chronic pulmonary disorders, knowledge regarding the regulation and function of SPDEF in the respiratory tract provides a framework for the development of new strategies for diagnosis and therapy for chronic lung diseases," the authors conclude.

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