Identification of trans Protein QTL for Secreted Airway Mucins in Mice and a Causal Role for Bpifb1

Donoghue, Lauren J.; Livraghi-Butrico, Alessandra; McFadden, Kathryn M.; Thomas, Joseph M.; Gang Chen; Grubb, Barbara R.; O'Neal, Wanda K.; Boucher, Richard C.; Kelada, Samir N. P.
October 2017
Genetics;Oct2017, Vol. 207 Issue 2, p801
Academic Journal
Mucus hyper-secretion is a hallmark feature of asthma and other muco-obstructive airway diseases. The mucin proteins MUC5AC and MUC5B are the major glycoprotein components of mucus and have critical roles in airway defense. Despite the biomedical importance of these two proteins, the loci that regulate them in the context of natural genetic variation have not been studied. To identify genes that underlie variation in airway mucin levels, we performed genetic analyses in founder strains and incipient lines of the Collaborative Cross (CC) in a house dust mite mouse model of asthma. CC founder strains exhibited significant differences in MUC5AC and MUC5B, providing evidence of heritability. Analysis of gene and protein expression of Muc5ac and Muc5b in incipient CC lines (n = 154) suggested that post-transcriptional events were important regulators of mucin protein content in the airways. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping identified distinct, trans protein QTL for MUC5AC (chromosome 13) and MUC5B (chromosome 2). These two QTL explained 18 and 20% of phenotypic variance, respectively. Examination of the MUC5B QTL allele effects and subsequent phylogenetic analysis allowed us to narrow the MUC5B QTL and identify Bpifb1 as a candidate gene. Bpifb1 mRNA and protein expression were upregulated in parallel to MUC5B after allergen challenge, and Bpifb1 knockout mice exhibited higher MUC5B expression. Thus, BPIFB1 is a novel regulator of MUC5B.


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