Transforming growth factor alpha (TGF alpha) is a polypeptide, which binds to the epidermal growth factor receptor to carry out its function related to cell proliferation and differentiation. The ultrastructural localisation of TGF alpha was studied in both the proximal and the distal colon. The columnar cells, lining the surface epithelium of the proximal colon, showed a strong immunoreactivity in the polyribosomes and in the interdigitations of the lateral membrane. The columnar cells of the crypts and the goblet cells in both the proximal and the distal colon showed the immunostaining in the cis and trans cisternae of the Golgi apparatus. TGF alpha seems to be processed differently in the surface columnar cells and in the crypt columnar cells and goblet cells. Moreover, it probably has different roles in proliferation and differentiation.
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