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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2012 Apr 15;302(8):L746-54. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00319.2011. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Allele-specific transactivation of matrix metalloproteinase 7 by FOXA2 and correlation with plasma levels in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA 15213, USA.


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a complex disease with poorly understood etiology. Previously, we reported upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase 7 (MMP7) in both lung and peripheral blood of IPF patients. Here we report evidence for genetic correlation of plasma levels and promoter polymorphisms (rs11568818 and rs11568819) of MMP7 in a well-characterized IPF cohort. Both the AA genotype of rs11568818 and the CT genotype of rs11568819 were found to be significantly associated with higher MMP7 plasma levels. These associations were observed only in IPF patients and not in healthy controls. The G-to-A transition of rs11568818 resulted in a novel binding site for the forkhead box A2 (FOXA2) transcription factor, a key regulator of embryonic lung development and proper function of the mature lung. In vitro, this transition led to increased sensitivity of the MMP7 promoter to FOXA2. In IPF lungs, FOXA2 was localized in the nucleus of epithelial cells that expressed MMP7 in the cytoplasm. These results suggest that increased sensitivity of the polymorphic MMP7 promoter to FOXA2 provides one of the genetic bases for the upregulation of MMP7 in IPF.

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