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J Membr Biol. 2002 Jan 15;185(2):165-76. Epub 2002 Feb 5.

Distribution and regulation of ENaC subunit and CFTR mRNA expression in murine female reproductive tract.

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Epithelial Cell Biology Research Center, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, SAR.


The present study investigated the regional distribution and cyclic changes in the mRNA expression of epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC) subunit and cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), a cAMP-activated Cl- channel, in adult female mouse reproductive tract. In situ hybridization revealed that in contrast to the abundant expression of CFTR, ENaC (alpha, beta, gamma) mRNA signal was not detected throughout the estrus cycle in the ovary and oviduct. Messenger RNA for all ENaC subunits was abundantly detected in the cervical and vaginal epithelia throughout the estrus cycle but for CFTR, mRNA was found only at proestrus. In the uterine epithelium, alphaENaC mRNA was detected at diestrus but not found at any other stage, while CFTR mRNA was only detected at early estrus but not other stages. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR detected mRNA for all ENaC subunits in the uterus throughout the cycle with maximal expression at diestrus and CFTR mRNA was only found in the early stages of the cycle. The involvement of ENaC and CFTR in Na+ absorption and Cl- secretion was demonstrated in cultured endometrial epithelia using the short-circuit current technique and found to be influenced by ovarian hormones. Taken together, these data indicate a main secretory role of the ovary and oviduct and a predominantly absorptive role of the cervix and vagina. The present results also suggest an ability of the uterus to secrete and absorb at different stages of the estrus cycle. Variations in the fluid profiles may be dictated by the regional and cyclic variations in expression of ENaC and CFTR and are likely to contribute to various reproductive events in different regions of the female reproductive tract.

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