Department of Pediatrics, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Hox genes regulate organ formation and identity of the embryo, and expressed in specific temporo-spatial patterns in the developing embryo. We compared the expression levels of the Hoxa5, Hoxb5, surfactant protein (SP)-A, and SP-B genes in immature and mature rabbit fetal lung tissues, and to uncover roles for Hoxa5, Hoxb5, SP-A, and SP-B. Cesarean sections were performed after rabbits were divided into two groups of 30-31 days of gestation (term group, n = 24) and 26-27 days of gestation (preterm group, n = 24). mRNA levels of Hoxa5, Hoxb5, SP-A, and SP-B were compared by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and protein expression of Hoxa5 and Hoxb5 was compared by western blot analysis. Fetal lung tissue histology was observed by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. The relative expression ratios of SP-A and SP-B mRNA in the term to preterm groups were 2.45:1 and 2.94:1, respectively. Hoxb5 mRNA and protein levels decreased in the term group, with a relative expression ratio of 0.48:1 and 0.50:1, however, Hoxa5 mRNA and protein levels increased in the term group with a relative expression ration of 2.99:1 and 2.33:1, respectively, for the term to preterm groups. Moreover, a significant positive correlation was found between the expression of Hoxa5 and SP-A, SP-B in the term group. Hoxa5 gene may be essential for the expression of SP-A and SP-B in term rabbits. The Hoxb5 gene may be an important factor for lung maturation in preterm rabbits.
Keywords: Hox genes, lung development, surfactant protein-A, surfactant protein-B, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, western blot.