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Mol Biol Cell. Oct 1992; 3(10): 1169–1180.
PMCID: PMC275680

Expression and distribution of osteopontin in human tissues: widespread association with luminal epithelial surfaces.


Osteopontin, a glycoprotein with a glycine-arginine-glycine-aspartate-serine (GRGDS) cell-binding domain, has been described in bone and is also known to be expressed in other organs, particularly kidney. The goal of the present work was to define the distribution of osteopontin synthesis and deposition in a wide variety of normal adult human tissues using a multifaceted approach that included immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and Northern analysis. Immunohistochemical studies have revealed the unexpected finding that osteopontin is deposited as a prominent layer at the luminal surfaces of specific populations of epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract, gall bladder, pancreas, urinary and reproductive tracts, lung, breast, salivary glands, and sweat glands. Northern analyses identified gallbladder as a major site of osteopontin gene transcription comparable in magnitude with that of kidney, and immunoblotting identified osteopontin in bile. In situ hybridization localized osteopontin gene transcripts predominantly to the epithelium of a variety of organs as well as to ganglion cells of bowel wall. Osteopontin of epithelial cell origin, like bone-derived osteopontin, promoted GRGDS-dependent cell spreading in attachment assays. We postulate that osteopontin secreted by epithelium binds integrins on luminal surfaces. Collectively, these findings suggest an important role for osteopontin on many luminal epithelial surfaces communicating with the external environment.

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