Identification of periplakin as a major regulator of lung injury and repair in mice
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Periplakin is a component of the desmosomes that acts as a cytolinker between intermediate filament scaffolding and the desmosomal plaque. Periplakin is strongly expressed by epithelial cells in the lung and is a target antigen for autoimmunity in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The aim of this study was to determine the role of periplakin during lung injury and remodeling in a mouse model of lung fibrosis induced by bleomycin. We found that periplakin expression was downregulated in the whole lung and in alveolar epithelial cells following bleomycin-induced injury. Deletion of the Ppl gene in mice improved survival and reduced lung fibrosis development after bleomycin-induced injury. Notably, Ppl deletion promoted an antiinflammatory alveolar environment linked to profound changes in type 2 alveolar epithelial cells, including overexpression of antiinflammatory cytokines, decreased expression of profibrotic mediators, and altered cell signaling with a reduced response to TGF-β1. These results identify periplakin as a previously unidentified regulator of the response to injury in the lung.