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Int Rev Cytol. 2002;213:147-81.

Cell type specific expression of secretory TFF peptides: colocalization with mucins and synthesis in the brain.

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Institut für Molekularbiologie und Medizinische Chemie, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität, Magdeburg, Germany.


The "TFF domain" is an ancient cysteine-rich shuffled module forming the basic unit for the family of secretory TFF peptides (formerly P-domain peptides and trefoil factors). It is also an integral component of mosaic proteins associated with mucous surfaces. Three mammalian TFF peptides are known (i.e., TFF1-TFF3); however, in Xenopus laevis the pattern is more complex (xP1, xP4.1, xP4.2, and xP2). TFF peptides are typical secretory products of a variety of mucin-producing epithelial cells (e.g., the conjunctiva, the salivary glands, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, and the uterus). Each TFF peptide shows an unique expression pattern and different mucin-producing cells are characterized by their specific TFF peptide/secretory mucin combinations. TFF peptides have a pivotal role in maintaining the surface integrity of mucous epithelia in vivo. They are typical constituents of mucus gels, they modulate rapid mucosal repair ("restitution") by their motogenic and their cell scattering activity, they have antiapoptotic effects, and they probably modulate inflammatory processes. Pathological expression of TFF peptides occurs as a result of chronic inflammatory diseases or certain tumors. TFF peptides are also found in the central nervous system, at least in mammals. In particular, TFF3 is synthesized from oxytocinergic neurons of the hypothalamus and is released from the posterior pituitary into the bloodstream.

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