LTBP-4L and LTBP-4S are two isoforms of the extracellular matrix protein latent-transforming growth factor beta-binding protein 4 (LTBP-4). The mutational inactivation of both isoforms causes autosomal recessive cutis laxa type 1C (ARCL1C) in humans and an ARCL1C-like phenotype in Ltbp4-/- mice, both characterized by high postnatal mortality and severely affected elastogenesis. However, genetic data in mice suggest isoform-specific functions for Ltbp-4 because Ltbp4S-/ mice, solely expressing Ltbp-4L, survive to adulthood. This clearly suggests a requirement of Ltbp-4L for postnatal survival. A major difference between Ltbp4S-/- and Ltbp4-/- mice is the matrix incorporation of fibulin-4 (a key factor for elastogenesis; encoded by the Efemp2 gene), which is normal in Ltbp4S-/- mice, whereas it is defective in Ltbp4-/- mice, suggesting that the presence of Ltbp-4L might be required for this process. To investigate the existence of a functional interaction between Ltbp-4L and fibulin-4, we studied the consequences of fibulin-4 deficiency in mice only expressing Ltbp-4L. Resulting Ltbp4S-/-;Fibulin-4R/R mice showed a dramatically reduced lifespan compared to Ltbp4S-/- or Fibulin-4R/R mice, which survive to adulthood. This dramatic reductionin survival of Ltbp4S-/-;Fibulin-4R/R mice correlates with severely impaired elastogenesis resulting in defective alveolar septation and distal airspace enlargement in lung, and increased aortic wall thickness with severely fragmented elastic lamellae. Additionally, Ltbp4S-/-;Fibulin-4R/R mice suffer from aortic aneurysm formation combined with aortic tortuosity, in contrast to Ltbp4S-/- or Fibulin-4R/R mice. Together, in accordance with our previous biochemical findings ofa physical interaction between Ltbp-4L and fibulin-4, these novel in vivo data clearly establish a functional link between Ltbp-4L and fibulin-4 as a crucial molecular requirement for survival and elastogenesis in mice.

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Disease Models & Mechanisms
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bultmann-Mellin, I. (Insa), Essers, J., Van Heijingen, P.M. (Paula M.), von Melchner, H., Sengle, G. (Gerhard), & Sterner-Kock, A. (2016). Function of Ltbp-4L and fibulin-4 in survival and elastogenesis in mice. Disease Models & Mechanisms, 9(11), 1367–1374. doi:10.1242/dmm.026005