PLoS Genetics (2020-04-01)

Loss of FOXM1 in macrophages promotes pulmonary fibrosis by activating p38 MAPK signaling pathway.

  • Chinmayee Goda,
  • David Balli,
  • Markaisa Black,
  • David Milewski,
  • Tien Le,
  • Vladimir Ustiyan,
  • Xiaomeng Ren,
  • Vladimir V Kalinichenko,
  • Tanya V Kalin

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 4
p. e1008692


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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic disease with high mortality and is refractory to treatment. Pulmonary macrophages can both promote and repress fibrosis, however molecular mechanisms regulating macrophage functions during fibrosis remain poorly understood. FOXM1 is a transcription factor and is not expressed in quiescent lungs. Herein, we show that FOXM1 is highly expressed in pulmonary macrophages within fibrotic lungs of IPF patients and mouse fibrotic lungs. Macrophage-specific deletion of Foxm1 in mice (myFoxm1-/-) exacerbated pulmonary fibrosis. Inactivation of FOXM1 in vivo and in vitro increased p38 MAPK signaling in macrophages and decreased DUSP1, a negative regulator of p38 MAPK pathway. FOXM1 directly activated Dusp1 promoter. Overexpression of DUSP1 in FOXM1-deficient macrophages prevented activation of p38 MAPK pathway. Adoptive transfer of wild-type monocytes to myFoxm1-/- mice alleviated bleomycin-induced fibrosis. Altogether, contrary to known pro-fibrotic activities in lung epithelium and fibroblasts, FOXM1 has anti-fibrotic function in macrophages by regulating p38 MAPK.