Research: Experimental congenital diaphragmatic hernia features an alteration of DNA sensing targets cGAS and STING

Pediatr Res

. 2024 May 30.

 doi: 10.1038/s41390-024-03277-2. Online ahead of print.

Experimental congenital diaphragmatic hernia features an alteration of DNA sensing targets cGAS and STING

Moritz Markel 1 2Wai Hei Tse 2Nolan De Leon 2Marietta Jank 2 3Jaida Albrechtsen 2Shana Kahnamoui Zadeh 2Daywin Patel 2Arzu Ozturk 2Martin Lacher 1Richard Wagner 1Richard Keijzer 4

Affiliations expand


Background: The pathogenesis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) depends on multiple factors. Activation of the DNA-sensing cyclic-GMP-AMP-synthase (cGAS) and Stimulator-of-Interferon-Genes (STING) pathway by double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) links environmental stimuli and inflammation. We hypothesized that nitrofen exposure alters cGAS and STING in human bronchial epithelial cells and fetal rat lungs.

Methods: We used the Quant-IT™-PicoGreen™ assay to assess dsDNA concentration in BEAS-2B cells after 24 h of nitrofen-exposure and performed immunofluorescence of cGAS/STING. We used nitrofen to induce CDH and harvested control and CDH lungs at embryonic day E15, E18 and E21 for cGAS/STING immunofluorescence, RT-qPCR and RNA-Scope™ in-situ-hybridization (E18, E21).

Results: We found a higher concentration of dsDNA following nitrofen treatment. Nitrofen-exposure to BEAS-2B cells increased cGAS and STING protein abundance. cGAS abundance was higher in nitrofen lungs at E15, E18 and E21. RNA-Scope in-situ-hybridization showed higher cGAS and STING expression in E18 and E21 lungs. RT-qPCR revealed higher mRNA expression levels of STING in E21 nitrofen-induced lungs.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that nitrofen-exposure increases dsDNA content which leads to stimulation of the cGAS/STING pathway in human BEAS-2B cells and the nitrofen rat model of CDH. Consequently, DNA sensing and the cGAS-STING-pathway potentially contribute to abnormal lung development in CDH.

Impact statement: We found an alteration of DNA sensing targets cGAS and STING in human BEAS-2B cells and experimental congenital diaphragmatic hernia with higher protein abundance and mRNA expression in cells and lung sections of nitrofen-treated rat pups. This is the first study to investigate DNA sensing, a potential link between environmental stimuli and inflammation, in experimental CDH. Our study extends the knowledge on the pathogenesis of experimental CDH.

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