Cell Death Dis. 2022 Dec 24;13(12):1070. doi: 10.1038/s41419-022-05515-z.
Pulmonary fibrosis (PF), as an end-stage clinical phenotype of interstitial lung diseases (ILDs), is frequently initiated after alveolar injury, in which ferroptosis has been identified as a critical event aggravating the pathophysiological progression of this disease. Here in, a comprehensive analysis of two mouse models of pulmonary fibrosis developed in our lab demonstrated that lung damage-induced ferroptosis of alveolar epithelial Type2 cells (AEC2) significantly accumulates during the development of pulmonary fibrosis while ferroptosis suppressor genes GPX4 and FSP1 are dramatically inactivated. Mechanistically, upregulation of de novo methylation regulator Uhrf1 sensitively elevates CpG site methylation levels in promoters of both GPX4 and FSP1 genes and induces the epigenetic repression of both genes, subsequently leading to ferroptosis in chemically interfered AEC2 cells. Meanwhile, specific inhibition of UHRF1 highly arrests the ferroptosis formation and blocks the progression of pulmonary fibrosis in both of our research models. This study first, to our knowledge, identified the involvement of Uhrf1 in mediating the ferroptosis of chemically injured AEC2s via de novo promoter-specific methylation of both GPX4 and FSP1 genes, which consequently accelerates the process of pulmonary fibrosis. The above findings also strongly suggested Uhrf1 as a novel potential target in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis.
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