The biological role of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-AA in lung morphogenesis was investigated by incubating embryonic lung explants with phosphorothioate antisense PDGF-A oligonucleotides, which decreased PDGF-AA but not PDGF-BB protein content. Antisense PDGF-A oligonucleotides inhibited DNA synthesis. This inhibitory effect of antisense PDGF-A was reversed by the addition of exogenous PDGF-AA but not PDGF-BB. Morphometric analyses of antisense-treated cultures showed a significant reduction in lung size. The number of terminal buds of the lung explants was significantly decreased by antisense PDGF-A oligonucleotides. PDGF-AA but not PDGF-BB attenuated the inhibitory effect of antisense PDGF-A on early lung branching. Sense PDGF-A had no effect on DNA synthesis and early lung branching. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed PDGF-A mRNA expression in the epithelial component of the embryonic lung, while message for PDGF alpha-receptor was expressed in the mesenchyme. Incubation of explants with neutralizing PDGF-AA antibodies also reduced DNA synthesis and early branching morphogenesis. We conclude that PDGF-AA and its receptor represent an important epithelial-mesenchymal interaction which plays a critical role in early lung branching morphogenesis.

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