Transforming growth factor–induced protein promotes NF-kB–mediated angiogenesis during postnatal lung development

Min Liu, Cristiana Iosef, Shailaja Rao, Racquel Domingo-Gonzalez, Sha Fu, Paige Snider, Simon J. Conway, Gray S. Umbach, Sarah C. Heilshorn, Ruby E. Dewi, Mar J. Dahl, Donald M. Null, Kurt H. Albertine, Cristina M. Alvira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Pulmonary angiogenesis is a key driver of alveolarization. Our prior studies showed that NF-kB promotes pulmonary angiogenesis during early alveolarization. However, the mechanisms regulating temporal-specific NF-kB activation in the pulmonary vasculature are unknown. To identify mechanisms that activate proangiogenic NF-kB signaling in the developing pulmonary vasculature, proteomic analysis of the lung secretome was performed using two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis. NF-kB activation and angiogenic function was assessed in primary pulmonary endothelial cells (PECs) and TGFBI (transforming growth factor-b–induced protein)–regulated genes identified using RNA sequencing. Alveolarization and pulmonary angiogenesis was assessed in wild-type and Tgfbi null mice exposed to normoxia or hyperoxia. Lung TGFBI expression was determined in premature lambs supported by invasive and noninvasive respiratory support. Secreted factors from the early alveolar, but not the late alveolar or adult lung, promoted proliferation and migration in quiescent, adult PECs. Proteomic analysis identified TGFBI as one protein highly expressed by the early alveolar lung that promoted PEC migration by activating NF-kB via avb3 integrins. RNA sequencing identified Csf3 as a TGFBI-regulated gene that enhances nitric oxide production in PECs. Loss of TGFBI in mice exaggerated the impaired pulmonary angiogenesis induced by chronic hyperoxia, and TGFBI expression was disrupted in premature lambs with impaired alveolarization. Our studies identify TGFBI as a developmentally regulated protein that promotes NF-kB–mediated angiogenesis during early alveolarization by enhancing nitric oxide production. We speculate that dysregulation of TGFBI expression may contribute to diseases marked by impaired alveolar and vascular growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-330
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Alveolarization
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Colony-stimulating factor-3
  • Endothelial migration
  • Nitric oxide production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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