microRNA Expression Profile of Purified Alveolar Epithelial Type II Cells
Alveolar type II (ATII) cells are essential for the maintenance of the alveolar homeostasis. However, knowledge of the expression of the miRNAs and miRNA-regulated networks which control homeostasis and coordinate diverse functions of murine ATII cells is limited. Therefore, we asked how miRNAs expressed in ATII cells might contribute to the regulation of signaling pathways. We purified "untouched by antibodies" ATII cells using a flow cytometric sorting method with a highly autofluorescent population of lung cells. TaqMan® miRNA low-density arrays were performed on sorted cells and intersected with miRNA profiles of ATII cells isolated according to a previously published protocol. Of 293 miRNAs expressed in both ATII preparations, 111 showed equal abundances. The target mRNAs of bona fide ATII miRNAs were used for pathway enrichment analysis. This analysis identified nine signaling pathways with known functions in fibrosis and/or epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In particular, a subset of 19 miRNAs was found to target 21 components of the TGF-β signaling pathway. Three of these miRNAs (miR-16-5p, -17-5p and -30c-5p) were down-modulated by TGF-β1 stimulation in human A549 cells, and concomitant up-regulation of associated mRNA targets (BMPR2, JUN, RUNX2) was observed. These results suggest an important role for miRNAs in maintaining the homeostasis of the TGF-β signaling pathway in ATII cells under physiological conditions.