Gut 47:792-800 doi:10.1136/gut.47.6.792
  • Inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease

Coordinated localisation of mucins and trefoil peptides in the ulcer associated cell lineage and the gastrointestinal mucosa


BACKGROUND AND AIMS Trefoil factor family (TFF) peptides and the chromosome 11p15.5 mucin glycoproteins are expressed and secreted in a site specific fashion along the length of the gastrointestinal tract. Evidence for coexpression of mucins and trefoil peptides has been suggested in numerous gastrointestinal mucosal pathologies. The ulcer associated cell lineage (UACL) occurs at sites of chronic ulceration in Crohn's disease, expresses all three trefoil peptides, and is implicated in mucosal restitution. We tested the hypothesis that individual trefoil peptides are uniquely localised with specific mucins in the UACL and normal gastrointestinal epithelia.

METHODS Expression of mucin genes in the UACL from small bowel tissue of patients with Crohn's disease was detected by in situ hybridisation, and localisation of the products by immunohistochemistry. Colocalisation of mucins and trefoil peptides was demonstrated by immunofluorescent colabelling in UACL and normal gastrointestinal epithelia.

RESULTS MUC5AC and TFF1 were colocalised in distal ductular and surface elements of the UACL and in foveolar cells of the stomach, whereas MUC6 and TFF2 were colocalised to acinar and proximal ductular structures in the UACL, in the fundus and deep antral glands of the stomach, and in Brunner's glands of the duodenum. MUC5B was found sporadically throughout the UACL and gastric body. MUC2 was absent from the UACL, Brunner's glands, and stomach. MUC2 and TFF3 were colocalised throughout the large and small bowel mucosa.

CONCLUSIONS The UACL has a unique profile of mucin gene expression. Coordinated localisation of trefoil peptides and mucins in UACL and normal gastrointestinal epithelia suggests they may assist each others' functions in protection and repair of gastrointestinal mucosa.


  • Abbreviations used in this paper:
    ulcer associated cell lineage
    trefoil factor family
    variable number tandem repeat
    phosphate buffered saline
    fluorescein isothiocyanate
    tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate