Distinct roles for SOX2 and SOX21 in differentiation, distribution and maturation of pulmonary neuroendocrine cells

Evelien Eenjes, Floor Benthem, Anne Boerema-de Munck, Marjon Buscop-van Kempen, Dick Tibboel, Robbert J. Rottier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Pulmonary neuroendocrine (NE) cells represent a small population in the airway epithelium, but despite this, hyperplasia of NE cells is associated with several lung diseases, such as congenital diaphragmatic hernia and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. The molecular mechanisms causing the development of NE cell hyperplasia remains poorly understood. Previously, we showed that the SOX21 modulates the SOX2-initiated differentiation of epithelial cells in the airways. Here, we show that precursor NE cells start to develop in the SOX2 + SOX21 + airway region and that SOX21 suppresses the differentiation of airway progenitors to precursor NE cells. During development, clusters of NE cells start to form and NE cells mature by expressing neuropeptide proteins, such as CGRP. Deficiency in SOX2 resulted in decreased clustering, while deficiency in SOX21 increased both the numbers of NE ASCL1 + precursor cells early in development, and the number of mature cell clusters at E18.5. In addition, at the end of gestation (E18.5), a number of NE cells in Sox2 heterozygous mice, did not yet express CGRP suggesting a delay in maturation. In conclusion, SOX2 and SOX21 function in the initiation, migration and maturation of NE cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Sophia Foundation for Medical Research S14-12 (EE) and S22-38 (FB).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


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