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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2000 Aug;279(2):C529-39.

Molecular markers expressed in cultured and freshly isolated interstitial cells of Cajal.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno 89557, USA.


Located within the tunica muscularis of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are networks of cells known as interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC). ICC are critical for important basic functions of GI motility such as generation and propagation of slow-wave pacemaker activity and reception of regulatory inputs from the enteric nervous system. We have developed a novel procedure to identify and isolate individual ICC from freshly dispersed cell preparations of the murine small intestine and gastric fundus and to determine differential transcriptional expression We have compared the expression profiles of pacemaker ICC isolated from the murine small intestine (IC-MY) and ICC involved in neurotransmission from the gastric fundus (IC-IM). We have also compared expression profiles between ICC and smooth muscle cells (SMC) and between freshly isolated ICC and cultured ICC. Cultured ICC express smooth muscle myosin, whereas freshly dispersed ICC do not. All cell types express muscarinic receptor types M(2) and M(3), neurokinin receptors NK(1) and NK(3), and inhibitory receptor VIP-1, whereas only cultured ICC and SMC express VIP-2. Both cultured and freshly dispersed IC-IM and IC-MY express the soluble form of stem cell factor, whereas SMC from the gastric fundus express only the membrane-bound form.

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