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J Hepatol. 1997 Dec;27(6):1057-66.

Mucin gene expression in biliary epithelial cells.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Anatomie et Cytologie Pathologique de l'Hôpital C. Huriez, CHRU de Lille, Unité INSERM 377, France.



In recent years considerable advances have been made in our knowledge of human mucin genes. Although analysis of their genomic organization is still in progress, the pattern of their expression in different human mucosae is now fairly well established. However, little is known about their expression in the biliary tree. In this study we determined the pattern of expression of the different human mucin genes in gallbladder biliary epithelial cells, intrahepatic bile ducts and liver.


Two complementary methods were used: Northern-blot and in situ hybridization analyses. The experiments were performed with eight probes corresponding to MUC1, MUC2, MUC3, MUC4, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC6 and MUC7.


Our results revealed a strong mRNA expression of MUC3, MUC6 and MUC5B, a weak expression of MUC1, MUC5AC and MUC2, and no expression of MUC4 and MUC7. Surprisingly, MUC3, which was the gene which was most expressed in the biliary tree, was also found in hepatocytes, suggesting another function for the MUC3 protein than that of a secreted mucin.


We conclude that MUC3, MUC6 and MUC5B were the main mucin genes expressed in biliary epithelial cells.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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