Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) 9 and 10 are essential during the pseudoglandular stage of lung development. Mesothelium-produced FGF9 is principally responsible for mesenchymal growth, whereas epithelium-produced FGF9 and mesenchyme-produced FGF10 guide lung epithelial development, and loss of either of these ligands affects epithelial branching. Because FGF9 and FGF10 activate distinct FGF receptors (FGFRs), we hypothesized that they would control distinct developmental processes. Here, we found that FGF9 signaled through epithelial FGFR3 to directly promote distal epithelial fate specification and inhibit epithelial differentiation. By contrast, FGF10 signaled through epithelial FGFR2b to promote epithelial proliferation and differentiation. Furthermore, FGF9-FGFR3 signaling functionally opposed FGF10-FGFR2b signaling, and FGFR3 preferentially used downstream phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathways, whereas FGFR2b relied on downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. These data demonstrate that, within lung epithelial cells, different FGFRs function independently; they bind receptor-specific ligands and direct distinct developmental functions through the activation of distinct downstream signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaay4353
JournalScience signaling
Issue number621
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020


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