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Histochem Cell Biol. 1999 Apr;111(4):289-95.

Ontogeny of pulmonary neuroendocrine cells which express the alpha-subunit of guanine nucleotide-binding protein Go.

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Department of Pathology, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Japan.


In order to ascertain that alpha-subunit of guanine nucleotide-binding protein Go (Go alpha)-positive cells in the lung epithelia are pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNECs), we carried out an immunohistochemical study in young adult and fetal lungs of rodents and in cultured fetal lung explants. Serial sections showed that Go alpha-positive cells were immunostained for calcitonin gene-related peptide and serotonin in young adult mouse, rat, and hamster lungs and that these cells are, therefore, PNECs. In the fetal lungs of hamster and mouse, Go alpha-positive PNECs appeared in the epithelium of the lobar bronchus by gestational day 13 in hamster and by day 15.5 in mouse, and they increased with a proximal-to-distal wave during the late fetal period. Explants of immature lung from the fetal hamster on gestational day 11 were cultured. After 2 days of culture, Go alpha-positive PNEC clusters appeared in the main and lobar bronchi and many PNEC clusters were seen after 4 days of culture. To determine the functional significance of Go in the development of the fetal lung, pertussis toxin, a Go inhibitor, was added to the medium, and changes in branching morphogenesis and PNEC development were studied. Although branching morphogenesis was not disturbed by pertussis toxin, the toxin treatment induced large PNEC clusters in the cultured lung explant. In summary, we showed that Go alpha is a neuroendocrine marker for PNECs and that Go alpha-positive cells appear along with development of PNECs in fetal hamster lung in vivo and in vitro. The functional significance of Go in the development of fetal lung is obscure, but signals mediated through this GTP-binding protein could be related to some functions of PNECs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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