The lung is a complex system in biology and medicine alike. Whereas there is a good understanding of the anatomy and histology of the embryonic and adult lung, less is known about the molecular details and the cellular pathways that ultimately orchestrate lung formation and affect its health. From a forward genetic approach to identify novel genes involved in lung formation, we identified a mutated Nubp1 gene, which leads to syndactyly, eye cataract and lung hypoplasia. In the lung, Nubp1 is expressed in progenitor cells of the distal epithelium. Nubp1(m1Nisw) mutants show increased apoptosis accompanied by a loss of the distal progenitor markers Sftpc, Sox9 and Foxp2. In addition, Nubp1 mutation disrupts localization of the polarity protein Par3 and the mitosis relevant protein Numb. Using knock-down studies in lung epithelial cells, we also demonstrate a function of Nubp1 in regulating centrosome dynamics and microtubule organization. Together, Nubp1 represents an essential protein for lung progenitor survival by coordinating vital cellular processes including cell polarity and centrosomal dynamics.
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