Gene fusion of IL7 involved in the regulation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Shixue Sun, Chen Huang, Dongliang Leng, Chang Chen, Teng Zhang, Kuan Cheok Lei, Xiaohua Douglas Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a rare form of immune-mediated interstitial lung disease characterized by progressive pulmonary fibrosis and scarring. The pathogenesis of IPF is still unclear. Gene fusion events exist universally during transcription and show alternated patterns in a variety of lung diseases. Therefore, the comprehension of the function of gene fusion in IPF might shed light on IPF pathogenesis research and facilitate treatment development. Methods: In this study, we included 91 transcriptome datasets from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), including 52 IPF patients and 39 healthy controls. We detected fusion events in these datasets and probed gene fusion-associated differential gene expression and functional pathways. To obtain robust results, we corrected the batch bias across different projects. Results: We identified 1550 gene fusion events in all transcriptomes and studied the possible impacts of IL7 = AC083837.1 gene fusion. The two genes locate adjacently in chromosome 8 and share the same promoters. Their fusion is associated with differential expression of 282 genes enriched in six Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways and 35 functional gene sets. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis shows that IL7 = AC083837.1 gene fusion is associated with the enrichment of 187 gene sets. The co-expression network of interleukin-7 (IL7) indicates that decreased IL7 expression is associated with many pathways that regulate IPF progress. Conclusion: Based on the results, we conclude that IL7 = AC083837.1 gene fusion might exacerbate fibrosis in IPF via enhancing activities of natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity, skin cell apoptosis, and vessel angiogenesis, the interaction of which contributes to the development of fibrosis and the deterioration of respiratory function of IPF patients. Our work unveils the possible roles of gene fusion in regulating IPF and demonstrates that gene fusion investigation is a valid approach in probing immunologic mechanisms and searching potential therapeutic targets for treating IPF. The reviews of this paper are available via the supplemental material section.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2021.


  • IL7
  • IPF
  • angiogenesis
  • apoptosis
  • fibrosis
  • fusion gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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