We have studied the developmental regulation of mouse sulfonylurea receptor (SUR) gene expression throughout several embryonic stages as well as in the adult mouse. To this end we used a 229-bp mouse complementary DNA corresponding to the 3'-end of the SUR gene for in situ hybridization and solution hybridization/ribonuclease protection assays. We found that the SUR gene was expressed as early as embryonic day 12 in the developing pancreas, heart, and central nervous system. These tissues maintained significant levels of SUR messenger RNA (mRNA) throughout development. In addition, SUR mRNA was detected in the submandibular gland, anterior duodenum, dorsal root ganglia, lens, retina, and vibrissae by late developmental stages. SUR mRNA is widely distributed in adult mouse tissues, with the exception of the liver. In the adult pancreas, the SUR gene was expressed exclusively in endocrine tissue. Although significant levels of SUR mRNA were broadly seen throughout the brain, neurons of the cerebellum, hippocampus, and thalamus had especially high levels of SUR mRNA. These findings support the idea that the SUR has important functions in many other tissues in addition to the islets of the pancreas.
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