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Dis Model Mech. 2013 Nov;6(6):1378-87. doi: 10.1242/dmm.013482. Epub 2013 Aug 29.

Sestrin-2, a repressor of PDGFRβ signalling, promotes cigarette-smoke-induced pulmonary emphysema in mice and is upregulated in individuals with COPD.

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Department of Molecular Haematology, Goethe University Medical School, D-60590 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. COPD is caused by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke and/or other environmental pollutants that are believed to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) that gradually disrupt signalling pathways responsible for maintaining lung integrity. Here we identify the antioxidant protein sestrin-2 (SESN2) as a repressor of PDGFRβ signalling, and PDGFRβ signalling as an upstream regulator of alveolar maintenance programmes. In mice, the mutational inactivation of Sesn2 prevents the development of cigarette-smoke-induced pulmonary emphysema by upregulating PDGFRβ expression via a selective accumulation of intracellular superoxide anions (O2(-)). We also show that SESN2 is overexpressed and PDGFRβ downregulated in the emphysematous lungs of individuals with COPD and to a lesser extent in human lungs of habitual smokers without COPD, implicating a negative SESN2-PDGFRβ interrelationship in the pathogenesis of COPD. Taken together, our results imply that SESN2 could serve as both a biomarker and as a drug target in the clinical management of COPD.

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