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Biochem J. 1999 Mar 15;338 ( Pt 3):745-51.

Intestinal trefoil factor binds to intestinal epithelial cells and induces nitric oxide production: priming and enhancing effects of mucin.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University, 2300 Children's Plaza, Chicago, IL 60614, USA. xtan@nwu.edu


Intestinal trefoil factor (ITF or TFF3), NO and epithelium-associated mucin have important roles in sustaining mucosal integrity in the gastrointestinal tract. In the present study we examined ITF-binding molecules on IEC-18 cells (an intestinal epithelial cell line) with the use of flow cytometry and localized these molecules on the cell surface by confocal microscopy. Furthermore, we studied the interaction of mucin and ITF and their co-operative effect on NO production by the epithelium. Stimulation of cells with mucin (5 mg/ml) for 90 min resulted in a 5-fold increase in ITF binding. Treatment of IEC-18 cells with actinomycin D or cycloheximide attenuated mucin-enhanced ITF binding. Ligand blot analysis confirmed the induction of ITF-binding protein in IEC-18 cells by mucin. These results indicate that transcriptional and translational mechanisms are involved in the effect of mucin. Treatment with ITF overnight resulted in a low level of nitrite production by the cells, a 5-fold increase over control, in a concentration-dependent manner. ITF-induced NO production was attenuated by 1400W, a selective type II nitric oxide synthase (NOS2) inhibitor. By immunoblotting we found that NOS2 was up-regulated by ITF treatment. Priming IEC-18 cells with mucin for 90 min enhanced the effect of ITF on NO production, suggesting that the up-regulation of ITF-binding molecules by mucin might be physiologically relevant. Taken together, these observations indicate (1) that ITF-binding molecules that are up-regulated by mucin exist on the intestinal epithelial surface, and (2) that ITF modulates epithelial NO production via the NOS2 pathway, which is enhanced by mucin.

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