Cigarette smoking (CS) and genetic susceptibility determine the risk for development, progression, and severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). We posited that an incidental balanced reciprocal chromosomal translocation was linked to a patient’s risk of severe COPD. We determined that 46,XX,t(1;4)(p13.1;q34.3) caused a breakpoint in the immunoglobulin superfamily member 3 (IGSF3) gene, with markedly decreased expression. Examination of COPDGene cohort identified 14 IGSF3 SNPs, of which rs1414272 and rs12066192 were directly and rs6703791 inversely associated with COPD severity, including COPD exacerbations. We confirmed that IGSF3 is a tetraspanin-interacting protein that colocalized with CD9 and integrin B1 in tetraspanin-enriched domains. IGSF3-deficient patient–derived lymphoblastoids exhibited multiple alterations in gene expression, especially in the unfolded protein response and ceramide pathways. IGSF3-deficient lymphoblastoids had high ceramide and sphingosine-1 phosphate but low glycosphingolipids and ganglioside levels, and they were less apoptotic and more adherent, with marked changes in multiple TNFRSF molecules. Similarly, IGSF3 knockdown increased ceramide in lung structural cells, rendering them more adherent, with impaired wound repair and weakened barrier function. These findings suggest that, by maintaining sphingolipid and membrane receptor homeostasis, IGSF3 is required for cell mobility–mediated lung injury repair. IGSF3 deficiency may increase susceptibility to CS-induced lung injury in COPD.
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