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Interferon-g Upregulates the c-Met/Hepatocyte Growth Factor Receptor Expression in Alveolar Epithelial Cells

In the repair process after lung injury, the regeneration of alveolar epithelial cells plays an important role by covering the damaged alveolar wall and preventing the activated fibroblasts from invading the intra- alveolar spaces. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a potent mitogen for alveolar epithelial cells and has been reported to be capable of repressing the fibrosing process by connecting to the c-Met/HGF receptor on alveolar epithelial cells. However, it has been reported that the c-Met expression was downregulated in an acute phase of lung injury, which may limit the effect of HGF for therapeutic use. In the present study we observed that interferon (IFN)-γ upregulates the c-Met messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression in A549 alveolar epithelial cells. We analyzed the mechanism of this upregulation and found that IFN-γ enhances the transcription of the c-met proto-oncogene, and that it does not prolong the stability of the c-Met mRNA. HGF is known to act as a motogen as well as a mitogen for epithelial cells. We also found that the migratory activity of A549 cells induced by HGF is strongly enhanced by preincubation with IFN-γ. Finally, we administered recombinant IFN-γ to C57BL/6 mice and confirmed that this upregulation is also observed in vivo. These results suggest that the combination of HGF and IFN-γ co