PloS one

Expression level and subcellular localization of heme oxygenase-1 modulates its cytoprotective properties in response to lung injury: a mouse model.

PMID 24599172


Premature infants exposed to hyperoxia suffer acute and long-term pulmonary consequences. Nevertheless, neonates survive hyperoxia better than adults. The factors contributing to neonatal hyperoxic tolerance are not fully elucidated. In contrast to adults, heme oxygenase (HO)-1, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-anchored protein, is abundant in the neonatal lung but is not inducible in response to hyperoxia. The latter may be important, because very high levels of HO-1 overexpression are associated with significant oxygen cytotoxicity in vitro. Also, in contrast to adults, HO-1 localizes to the nucleus in neonatal mice exposed to hyperoxia. To understand the mechanisms by which HO-1 expression levels and subcellular localization contribute to hyperoxic tolerance in neonates, lung-specific transgenic mice expressing high or low levels of full-length HO-1 (cytoplasmic, HO-1-FL(H) or HO-1-FL(L)) or C-terminally truncated HO-1 (nuclear, Nuc-HO-1-TR) were generated. In HO-1-FL(L), the lungs had a normal alveolar appearance and lesser oxidative damage after hyperoxic exposure. In contrast, in HO-1-FL(H), alveolar wall thickness with type II cell hyperproliferation was observed as well worsened pulmonary function and evidence of abnormal lung cell hyperproliferation in recovery from hyperoxia. In Nuc-HO-1-TR, the lungs had increased DNA oxidative damage, increased poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) protein expression, and reduced poly (ADP-ribose) (PAR) hydrolysis as well as reduced pulmonary function in recovery from hyperoxia. These data indicate that low cytoplasmic HO-1 levels protect against hyperoxia-induced lung injury by attenuating oxidative stress, whereas high cytoplasmic HO-1 levels worsen lung injury by increasing proliferation and decreasing apoptosis of alveolar type II cells. Enhanced lung nuclear HO-1 levels impaired recovery from hyperoxic lung injury by disabling PAR-dependent regulation of DNA repair. Lastly both high cytoplasmic and nuclear expression of HO-1 predisposed to long-term abnormal lung cellular proliferation. To maximize HO-1 cytoprotective effects, therapeutic strategies must account for the specific effects of its subcellular localization and expression levels.