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Mol Genet Metab. 1998 Jun;64(2):108-18.

Molecular pathophysiology of cystic fibrosis based on the rescued knockout mouse model.

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Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University, School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.


Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (cftr) gene mutations are thought to result in cystic fibrosis due to an absence of the protein's chloride channel. Recently, the lethal intestinal blockage in the cftr knockout mouse was reversed by a single in utero dose of a recombinant adenovirus containing the human cftr gene. The rescue of these animals did not require continuous expression of the gene and the cAMP-dependent chloride channel was not permanently restored. These data suggested that cftr was required for normal development of the intestine but not for normal function of the adult organ. Phenotypic changes in the intestines and lungs of in utero cftr-treated knockout and heterozygous mice revealed that altered development was induced. The intestines of the untreated knockout mice were shown to be deficient in both intracellular calcium and UTP receptors. Both of these deficiencies were partially corrected in the rescued knockout mice, whereas treatment of heterozygous animals disrupted the normal pattern of these markers. Examination of the lungs of knockout cftr (-/-) mice with lectins showed an increase in secreted glycoconjugates containing alpha(2,6)-sialic acid and fucose as compared with control heterozygotes. The in utero-treated knockouts showed an increase in this material as well, but it was contained in intracellular vesicles. Electron microscopy of these tissues confirmed the developmental alteration of secretory cell differentiation in the lungs. These data show that cftr is required in both the lung and intestines for normal differentiation of a secretory cell population and that in its absence these cells fail to develop properly.

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