The Lung Microenvironment Instructs Gene Transcription in Neonatal and Adult Alveolar Macrophages [IMMUNE SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT]

Immaturity of alveolar macrophages (AMs) around birth contributes to the susceptibility of newborns to lung disease. However, the molecular features differentiating neonatal and mature, adult AMs are poorly understood. In this study, we identify the unique transcriptomes and enhancer landscapes of neonatal and adult AMs in mice. Although the core AM signature was similar, murine adult AMs expressed higher levels of genes involved in lipid metabolism, whereas neonatal AMs expressed a largely proinflammatory gene profile. Open enhancer regions identified by an assay for transposase-accessible chromatin followed by high-throughput sequencing (ATAC-seq) contained motifs for nuclear receptors, MITF, and STAT in adult AMs and AP-1 and NF-B in neonatal AMs. Intranasal LPS activated a similar innate immune response in both neonatal and adult mice, with higher basal expression of inflammatory genes in neonates. The lung microenvironment drove many of the distinguishing gene expression and open chromatin characteristics of neonatal and adult AMs. Neonatal mouse AMs retained high expression of some proinflammatory genes, suggesting that the differences in neonatal AMs result from both inherent cell properties and environmental influences.

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