Pattern of rat intestinal brush-border enzyme gene expression changes with epithelial growth state

R. A. Hodin, S. M. Chamberlain, S. Meng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Enterocyte growth and differentiation occur simultaneously within the epithelium, but little is known regarding any relationship between these two processes. Four rat models of small intestinal epithelial hypo- and hyperplasia (neonatal ontogeny, fasting/refeeding, hypo-/hyperthyroidism, and bombesin treatment) were used to study the regulation of enterocyte gene expression in relation to epithelial growth state. Mucosal scrapings, as well as crypt and villus cell populations, were subjected to Northern blot analyses using radiolabeled cDNA probes corresponding to lactase, intestinal alkaline phosphatase, villin, ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), and the actin control. In all four models, the hypoplastic (atrophic) condition is characterized by high levels of lactase and low levels of the 3.0-kb intestinal alkaline phosphatase mRNA, whereas under hyperplastic conditions this pattern is reversed. The changes in intestinal alkaline phosphatase and lactase are qualitatively similar along the longitudinal axis of the intestine and are proportional to the degree of hyperplasia, as verified by ODC mRNA levels. Furthermore, the crypt-villus axis of differentiation is maintained regardless of epithelial growth state. In conclusion, the pattern of brush-border enzyme gene expression changes as a function of epithelial growth state, indicating a previously unrecognized degree of plasticity to the state of enterocyte differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C385-C391
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number2 38-2
StatePublished - 1995


  • differentiation
  • enterocyte
  • gene regulation
  • small intestine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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