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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 May 28;1539(1-2):71-84.

Specific secretion of gel-forming mucins and TFF peptides in HT-29 cells of mucin-secreting phenotype.

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Unité INSERM 377, Lille Cedex, France.


Trefoil factor family (TFF) peptides are typical secretory products of mucin-producing cells, e.g. of the gastrointestinal tract. Here, the expression and secretion of mucins and TFF peptides was studied in the HT-29 cell line throughout cellular growth and differentiation in relation to a mucin-secreting (HT-29 MTX) or an enterocyte-like (HT-29 G(-)) phenotype. mRNAs of several MUC and TFF genes were expressed in both cell subpopulations. However, for most MUC and TFF genes, the expression appeared strongly induced with the differentiation into the mucin-secreting phenotype. On the other hand, TFF2 was specifically expressed in the mucin-secreting HT-29 MTX cells. The differentiation of HT-29 MTX cells into the mucin-secreting phenotype was characterised by secretion of the gel-forming mucins MUC2, MUC5AC, and MUC5B, however, according to a different pattern in the course of differentiation. A significant amount of TFF1 and TFF3 was secreted after differentiation, also according to a different pattern, whereas TFF2 was only faintly detected. Secretagogues, known to induce the secretion of mucus, increased the secretion of all three TFF peptides. In contrast, neither a secretory mucin nor a TFF peptide was found in the culture medium of HT-29 G(-) cells. Overlay assays indicated that HT-29 MTX mucins bound to secretory peptides of HT-29 MTX cells with relative molecular mass similar to TFF peptides. TFF1 and TFF3 were specifically localised in the mucus layer of HT-29 MTX cells by confocal microscopy. Finally, the secretion of TFF peptides and mucins appears as a co-ordinated process which only occurs after differentiation into goblet cell-like phenotype.

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