Expression of J1/tenascin in the crypt-villus unit of adult mouse small intestine: Implications for its role in epithelial cell shedding

R. Probstmeier, R. Martini, M. Schachner

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The localization of the extracellular matrix recognition molecule J1/tenascin was investigated in the crypt-villus unit of the adult mouse ileum by immunoelectron microscopic techniques. In the villus region, J1/tenascin was detected strongly in the extracellular matrix (ECM) between fibroblasts of the lamina propria. It was generally absent in the ECM at the interface between subepithelial fibroblasts and intestinal epithelium, except for some restricted areas along the epithelial basal lamina of villi, but not of crypts. These restricted areas corresponded approximately to the basal part of one epithelial cell. In J1/tenascin-positive areas, epithelial cells contacted the basal lamina with numerous microvillus-like processes, whereas in J1/tenascin-negative areas the basal surface membranes of epithelial cells contacted their basal lamina in a smooth and continuous apposition. In order to characterize the functional role of J1/tenascin in the interaction between epithelial cells and ECM, the intestinal epithelial cell line HT-29 was tested for its ability to adhere to different ECM components. Cells adhered to substratum-immobilized fibronectin, laminin and collagen types I to IV, but not to J1/tenascin. When laminin or collagen types I to IV were mixed with J1/tenascin, cell adhesion was as effective as without J1/tenascin. However, adhesion was completely abolished when cells were offered a mixture of fibronectin and J1/tenascin as substratum. The ability of J1/tenascin to reduce the adhesion of intestinal epithelial cells to their fibronectin-containing basal lamina suggests that J1/tenascin may be involved in the process of physiological cell shedding from the villus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-321
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • HT-29 cell line
  • J1/tenascin
  • epithelium
  • small intestine


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