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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1998 Oct;19(4):636-42.

Expression of the human integrin beta6 subunit in alveolar type II cells and bronchiolar epithelial cells reverses lung inflammation in beta6 knockout mice.

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Lung Biology Center, and the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Inactivation of the integrin beta6 subunit gene in mice resulted in an unexpected phenotype-functionally significant inflammation of the skin and lungs. These findings suggested a role for ligation of the alphav beta6 integrin on epithelial cells in downregulating epithelial inflammation. However, the results of gene inactivation could have been due to inactivation of adjacent genes and provided no information about the role of this integrin in specific populations of epithelial cells. In the current study, we used transgenic mice constitutively expressing the human beta6 subunit in alveolar type II cells and bronchiolar epithelial cells to examine directly the significance of alphav beta6 in these cells. Expression of this transgene largely inhibited the increases in airspace lymphocytes and macrophages and the lymphocyte and macrophage activation caused by inactivation of the beta6 subunit gene, and reduced the peribronchial and perivascular accumulations of lymphocytes. In the genetically mixed mice used for this study, we identified airway eosinophilia as an additional effect of beta6 inactivation. This effect was also partially inhibited by limited expression of the human transgene. These results definitively identify a role for distal lung epithelial alphav beta6 in downregulating pulmonary inflammation and suggest that interventions augmenting beta6 expression or function in these cells could influence the course of inflammatory lung diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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