FGFR2b signalling restricts lineage-flexible alveolar progenitors during mouse lung development and converges in mature alveolar type 2 cells


The specification, characterization, and fate of alveolar type 1 and type 2 (AT1 and AT2) progenitors during embryonic lung development are poorly defined. Current models of distal epithelial lineage formation fail to capture the heterogeneity and dynamic contribution of progenitor pools present during early development. Furthermore, few studies explore the pathways involved in alveolar progenitor specification and fate. In this paper, we build upon our previously published work on the regulation of airway epithelial progenitors by fibroblast growth factor receptor 2b (FGFR2b) signalling during early (E12.5) and mid (E14.5) pseudoglandular stage lung development. Our results suggest that a significant proportion of AT2 and AT1 progenitors are lineage-flexible during late pseudoglandular stage development, and that lineage commitment is regulated in part by FGFR2b signalling. We have characterized a set of direct FGFR2b targets at E16.5 which are likely involved in alveolar lineage formation. These signature genes converge on a subpopulation of AT2 cells later in development and are downregulated in AT2 cells transitioning to the AT1 lineage during repair after injury in adults. Our findings highlight the extensive heterogeneity of pneumocytes by elucidating the role of FGFR2b signalling in these cells during early airway epithelial lineage formation, as well as during repair after injury.




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Cellular and molecular life sciences 79 (2022), 609




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