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Arch Histol Cytol. 2007 Oct;70(3):163-73.

Interstitial cells of Cajal in the gastrointestinal musculature of W mutant mice.

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Department of Morphological and Physiological Sciences, University of Fukui Faculty of Medical Sciences, Fukui, Japan.


Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are important regulatory cells generating electrical rhythmicity and transducing neural signals in the gastrointestinal musculature. ICC express the proto-oncogene c-kit, a receptor tyrosine kinase, and can be examined morphologically using the c-Kit antibody. The c-kit gene is allelic with the murine white-spotting locus W, and the c-kit mutation (W mutation) affects various aspects of hematopoietic cells, germ cells, melanocytes, mast cells, and ICC. Heterozygous W/W( v) mutant mice lack a specific type of ICC and have been used to reveal its function. To search for a new model that lacks a specific type of ICC, we examined homozygous W( v)/W( v) black-eyed-white mice that are viable with anemia. Results showed the principal patterns of ICC deficiency were the same between the W/W( v) and W( v)/W( v) mutants. In the stomach of both mice, intramuscular ICC (ICC-IM) were missing and myenteric ICC (ICC-MY) were reduced in number. In the small intestine, the number of ICC-MY was severely reduced in spite of a normal distribution of deep muscular plexus ICC (ICC-DMP). The cecum also exhibited fewer reduced. ICC-IM in the colon were almost entirely missing, whereas ICC-MY were reduced only in the distal colon. In the small intestine and colon, the number of remaining ICC-MY in W( v)/W( v) mice was greater than that in W/W( v) mice. The enteric nervous system of the two mutant mice showed normal characteristics. From these findings, we conclude that W( v)/W( v) mice represent a new genotype that lacks a part of the ICC in its gastrointestinal musculature.

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