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DNA Cell Biol. 1998 May;17(5):481-92.

Regulation of CCSP (PCB-BP/uteroglobin) expression in primary cultures of lung cells: involvement of C/EBP.

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Department of Medical Nutrition, Novum Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden.


The Clara-cell secretory protein (CCSP) is a cell-specific differentiation marker for the bronchiolar Clara cell. Isolated rat Clara and alveolar type 2 cells kept in primary culture proliferate and dedifferentiate, providing the opportunity to study differentiation-dependent mechanisms. In freshly isolated Clara cells, high levels of CCSP and the corresponding mRNA were detected. During culture in vitro, these levels decreased. In the type 2 cell fraction, low levels of CCSP were detected, which decreased further during culture. A promoter fragment of the rat CCSP gene encompassing the sequence from -188 to +53 was able to drive high-level expression of reporter genes in transfected Clara cells. Reporter gene expression in transfected type 2 cells was markedly lower, and no expression could be detected in alveolar macrophages. Expression of transcription factors previously described to stimulate CCSP expression appeared not to parallel CCSP levels in the primary Clara cells. However, expression of the transcription factor C/EBP alpha correlated with the CCSP expression pattern. In electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we were able to demonstrate binding of C/EBP alpha from rat Clara cell nuclear extracts to an element located 85 bp upstream of the start site of transcription. Overexpression of C/EBP alpha increased expression from the CCSP -188 promoter fragment up to fivefold in NCI-H441-cells and 30-fold in A549-cells, establishing the functional importance of C/EBP alpha. Our results show that primary cultures of Clara cells constitute a useful model for investigating terminal airway differentiation and suggest a role for C/EBP-factor(s) in this process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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