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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Mar;1813(3):480-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2010.12.017. Epub 2010 Dec 29.

Presenilin-1 processing of ErbB4 in fetal type II cells is necessary for control of fetal lung maturation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, 800 Washington Street, Box 097, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Maturation of pulmonary fetal type II cells to initiate adequate surfactant production is crucial for postnatal respiratory function. Little is known about specific mechanisms of signal transduction controlling type II cell maturation. The ErbB4 receptor and its ligand neuregulin (NRG) are critical for lung development. ErbB4 is cleaved at the cell membrane by the γ-secretase enzyme complex whose active component is either presenilin-1 (PSEN-1) or presenilin-2. ErbB4 cleavage releases the 80kDa intracellular domain (4ICD), which associates with chaperone proteins such as YAP (Yes-associated protein) and translocates to the nucleus to regulate gene expression. We hypothesized that PSEN-1 and YAP have a development-specific expression in fetal type II cells and are important for ErbB4 signaling in surfactant production. In primary fetal mouse E16, E17, and E18 type II cells, PSEN-1 and YAP expression increased at E17 and E18 over E16. Subcellular fractionation showed a strong cytosolic and a weaker membrane location of both PSEN-1 and YAP. This was enhanced by NRG stimulation. Co-immunoprecipitations showed ErbB4 associated separately with PSEN-1 and with YAP. Their association, phosphorylation, and co-localization were induced by NRG. Confocal immunofluorescence and nuclear fractionation confirmed these associations in a time-dependent manner after NRG stimulation. Primary ErbB4-deleted E17 type II cells were transfected with a mutant ErbB4 lacking the γ-secretase binding site. When compared to transfection with wild-type ErbB4, the stimulatory effect of NRG on surfactant protein mRNA expression was lost. We conclude that PSEN-1 and YAP have crucial roles in ErbB4 signal transduction during type II cell maturation.

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