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J Cell Sci. 2004 Mar 15;117(Pt 8):1329-37. Epub 2004 Mar 2.

Foxj1 regulates basal body anchoring to the cytoskeleton of ciliated pulmonary epithelial cells.

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Developmental Biology Research Unit, The Edward R. Mallinckrodt Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The forkhead box transcription factor Foxj1 is required for cilia formation and left-right axis determination. To define the role of Foxj1 in ciliogenesis, microarray analysis was performed to identify differentially expressed genes in the pulmonary epithelium of foxj1(+/+) and foxj1(-/-) mice. In the absence of Foxj1, the expression of calpastatin, an inhibitor of the protease calpain, decreased. RNase protection confirmed the decrease in calpastatin expression and decreased calpastatin was detected in the proximal pulmonary epithelium of foxj1(-/-) mice by immunohistochemistry. No change was detected in the expression of calpain 2 in the pulmonary epithelium by western blot or immunohistochemistry. By western blot and immunofluorescence, ezrin, a substrate for calpain, was also found to decrease in the pulmonary epithelium of foxj1(-/-) mice. No change in ezrin gene expression was found by RT-PCR. A decrease in ezrin binding phosphoprotein-50 (EBP-50) was also detected by immunofluorescence in the foxj1(-/-) mouse pulmonary epithelium. Immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated ezrin associated with the basal bodies of cilia in the pulmonary epithelium. Treatment of tracheal explants from foxj1(-/-) mice with a calpain inhibitor resulted in a partial reappearance of cilia observed in these mice. Additionally, following treatment of foxj1(-/-) tracheal explants with calpain inhibitor, basal bodies were observed in an apical location along with relocalization of ezrin and EBP-50. Regulation of calpain activity by calpastatin thus provides a mechanism for regulating the anchoring of basal bodies to the apical cytoskeleton in ciliated cells. In the absence of Foxj1, decreased calpastatin expression with decreased ezrin and EBP-50 results in an inability of basal bodies to anchor to the apical cytoskeleton and subsequent failure of axonemal formation.

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