Effects of fibroblast growth factor-7 (FGF-7) on lung morphogenesis, respiratory epithelial cell differentiation, and proliferation were assessed in transgenic mice in which the human FGF-7 cDNA was controlled by a conditional promoter under the direction of regulatory elements from either the human surfactant protein-C (SP-C) or rat Clara cell secretory protein (ccsp) genes. Expression of FGF-7 was induced in respiratory epithelial cells of the fetal lung by administration of doxycycline to the dam. Prenatally, doxycycline induced FGF-7 mRNA in respiratory epithelial cells in both Sp-c and Ccsp transgenic lines, increasing lung size and causing cystadenomatoid malformation. Postnatally, mice bearing both Ccsp-rtta and (Teto)(7)-cmv-fgf-7 transgenes survived, and lung morphology was normal. Induction of FGF-7 expression by doxycycline in the Ccsp-rtta x (Teto)(7)-cmv-fgf-7 mice caused marked epithelial cell proliferation, adenomatous hyperplasia, and pulmonary infiltration with mononuclear cells. Epithelial cell hyperplasia caused by FGF-7 was largely resolved after removal of doxycycline. Surfactant proteins, TTF-1, and aquaporin 5 expression were conditionally induced by doxycycline. The Sp-c-rtta and Ccsp-rtta activator mice provide models in which expression is conditionally controlled in respiratory epithelial cells in the developing and mature lung, altering lung morphogenesis, differentiation, and proliferation.
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