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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Nov 19;1408(2-3):312-22.

Genetics of the hydrophilic surfactant proteins A and D.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology H166, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, P.O. Box 850, 500 University Dr., Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


The use of candidate genes has increased the ability to identify genetic factors involved in diseases with complex and multifactorial etiology. The surfactant proteins (SP) A and D are involved in host defense and inflammatory processes of the lung, which are often components of pulmonary disease. Therefore, the SP-A and SP-D genes make particularly good candidates to study factors contributing to pulmonary disease etiopathogenesis. Moreover, SP-A also plays a role in the surface tension lowering abilities of pulmonary surfactant, which is essential for normal lung function. Although genetic variability at the SP-D locus may exist among humans, allelic variants have not yet been characterized. On the other hand, the human SP-A genes (SP-A1 and SP-A2) are characterized by genetically dependent splice variants at the 5' untranslated region and allelic variants. The polymorphisms that give rise to SP-A1 and SP-A2 alleles are contained within coding regions, potentially having an effect on protein function. There appears to be a correlation between SP-A genotype and SP-A mRNA content. Furthermore, one SP-A2 allele (1A0) shown to associate with low SP-A mRNA levels is found with higher frequency in a subgroup with respiratory distress syndrome. The evidence gathered thus far indicates that SP-A, possibly by interacting with other surfactant components, may play a role (e.g. be a susceptibility factor) in the development of respiratory disease.

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