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Histochem Cell Biol. 2005 Sep;124(3-4):245-60. Epub 2005 Oct 28.

Identification of genes specific to "oval cells" in the rat 2-acetylaminofluorene/partial hepatectomy model.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, Georg-August-University, Göttingen, 37099, Germany.


Under certain conditions liver regeneration can be accomplished by hepatic progenitor cells ("oval cells"). So far, only few factors have been identified to be uniquely regulated by the "oval cell" compartment. Using macroarray analysis in a rat model of oval cell proliferation (treatment with 2-acetylaminofluorene and partial hepatectomy, AAF + PH), we identified 12 differentially expressed genes compared to appropriate control models (AAF treatment and sham operation or AAF treatment alone). Further analysis in models of normal liver regeneration (ordinary PH) and acute phase response (turpentine oil-treated rats) revealed that three out of 12 genes (thymidine kinase 1, Jun-D and ADP-ribosylation factor 4) were not affected by the hepatic acute phase reaction but similarly overexpressed in both "oval cell"-dependant and normal liver regeneration. We characterized Jun-D and ADP-ribosylation factors as novel factors upregulated in oval cells and in non-parenchymal liver cells of normally regenerating livers. However, two out of 12 differentially expressed genes were specifically expressed in oval cells: ras-related protein Rab-3b and Ear-2. On protein level, Rab-3b was increased in total liver homogenates and demonstrated only in clusters of oval cells. We postulate that Ear-2 and Rab-3b may represent novel regulatory factors specifically activated in "oval cells".

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