Gene Expression in Alveolar Development

  • Jacques R. Bourbon
Part of the Clinical Physiology Series book series (CLINPHY)


Respiratjory epithelium, strictly defined as the epithelium of distal lung that lines walls of respiratory bronchioles and alveoli, is composed of two cell types known as alveolar type I and II cells or type I and II pneumocytes. The former is a flat, attenuated, terminally differentiated cell through which air—blood gas exchanges occur. The latter is a cuboidal cell that elaborates and releases all the phospholipid and protein components of pulmonary surfactant (87, 113); it also serves as a progenitor cell for itself and for the type I cell that does not divide (64). Although it belongs to the bronchiolar epithelium at the junction of conducting and respiratory portions of the lung, the nonciliated bronchiolar, or Clara, cell shares features with the type II pneumocyte since, in addition to secretory products proper to this cell type, it also releases some surfactant protein components (87). It also represents the progenitor for itself and for the basal and ciliated cells in the renewal process of the epithelium (64). These cell types, however, represent only a small part of all epithelial lung cell phenotypes. In total, pulmonary epithelium comprises at least 11 differentiated cell types that, to a large extent, determine lung function. To understand phenotypic differentiation in the distal parts of the lung, we need to investigate (1) how lung-specific identity is determined, and (2), how distal cell lineages are specified relative to those of more proximal parts of the lung, the epithelial cells of conducting airways.


Lung Development Surfactant Protein Alveolar Type Keratinocyte Growth Factor Clara Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© American Physiological Society 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacques R. Bourbon

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