Background: Cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease severity is highly variable and dependent on several factors including genetic modifiers. Family with sequence similarity 13 member A (FAM13A) has been previously associated with lung function in the general population as well as in several chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), we examined whether FAM13A is a modifier gene of CF lung phenotype. We also studied how FAM13A may contribute to the physiopathological mechanisms associated with CF.
Methods: We investigated the association of FAM13A with lung function in CF French patients (n = 1222) by SNP-wise analysis and Versatile Gene Based Association Study. We also analyzed the consequences of FAM13A knockdown in A549 cells and primary bronchial epithelial cells from CF patients.
Results: We found that FAM13A is associated with lung function in CF patients. Utilizing lung epithelial A549 cells and primary human bronchial epithelial cells from CF patients we observed that IL-1β and TGFβ reduced FAM13A expression. Knockdown of FAM13A was associated with increased RhoA activity, induction of F-actin stress fibers and regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition markers such as E-cadherin, α-smooth muscle actin and vimentin.
Conclusion: Our data show that FAM13A is a modifier gene of CF lung phenotype regulating RhoA activity, actin cytoskeleton dynamics and epithelial-mesenchymal transition.