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J Biol Chem. 2010 Apr 16;285(16):11998-2010. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.046243. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

Humanized SFTPA1 and SFTPA2 transgenic mice reveal functional divergence of SP-A1 and SP-A2: formation of tubular myelin in vivo requires both gene products.

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  • 1Penn State Center for Host Defense, Inflammation, and Lung Disease Research, Department of Pediatrics, Penn State HersheyCollege ofMedicine, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA.


Surfactant protein A (SP-A) plays a role in lung innate immunity and surfactant-related functions. Two functional genes, SP-A1 (SFTPA1) and SP-A2 (SFTPA2), are present in humans and primates (rodents have one gene). Single gene SP-A1 or SP-A2 proteins expressed in vitro are functional. To study their role in vivo, we generated humanized transgenic (hTG) C57BL/6 mice, SP-A1(6A(4)) and SP-A2(1A(3)). The SP-A cDNA in experimental constructs was driven by the 3.7-kb SP-C promoter. Positive hTG mice were bred with SP-A knock-out mice to generate F8 offspring for study. Epithelial alveolar type II cells were SP-A-positive, and Clara cells were negative by immunohistochemistry in hTG mice. The levels of SP-A in lungs of two hTG lines used were comparable with those in human lungs. Southern blot analysis indicated that two cDNA copies of either SP-A1(6A(4)) or SP-A2(1A(3)) were integrated as a concatemer into the genome of each of the two hTG lines. Electron microscopy analysis revealed that hTG mice with a single SP-A1(6A(4)) or SP-A2(1A(3)) gene product lacked tubular myelin (TM), but hTG mice carrying both had TM. Furthermore, TM was observed in human bronchoalveolar lavage fluid only if both SP-A1 and SP-A2 gene products were present and not in those containing primarily (>99.7%) either SP-A1 or SP-A2 gene products. In vivo rescue study confirmed that TM can only be restored after administering exogenous SP-A containing both SP-A1 and SP-A2 into the lungs of SP-A knock-out mice. These observations indicate that SP-A1 and SP-A2 diverged functionally at least in terms of TM formation.

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