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J Mol Histol. 2010 Dec;41(6):411-7. doi: 10.1007/s10735-010-9290-6. Epub 2010 Sep 5.

Carbonic anhydrases in the mouse harderian gland.

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Institute of Medical Technology, University of Tampere, Biokatu 6, 33520 Tampere, Finland.


The harderian gland is located within the orbit of the eye of most terrestrial vertebrates. It is especially noticeable in rodents, in which it synthesises lipids, porphyrins, and indoles. Various functions have been ascribed to the harderian gland, such as lubrication of the eyes, a site of immune response, and a source of growth factors. Carbonic anhydrases (CAs) are zinc-containing metalloenzymes that catalyse the reaction CO₂ + H₂O <--> H+ + HCO₃. They are involved in the adjustment of pH in the secretions of different glands. Thirteen enzymatically active isozymes have been described in the mammalian α-CA family. Here, we first investigated the mRNA expression of all 13 active CAs in the mouse harderian gland by quantitative real-time PCR. Nine CA mRNAs were detectable in the gland. Car5b and Car13 showed the highest signals. Car4, Car6, and Car12 showed moderate expression levels, whereas Car2, Car3, Car7, and Car15 mRNAs were barely within the detection limits. Immunohistochemical staining was performed to study the expression of Car2, Car4, Car5b, Car12, and Car13 at the protein level. The epithelial cells were intensively stained for CAVB, whereas only weak signal was detected for CAXIII. Positive signals for CAIV and CAXII were observed in the capillary endothelial cells and the basolateral plasma membrane of the epithelial cells, respectively. This study provides an expression profile of all CAs in the mouse harderian gland. These results should improve our understanding of the distribution of CA isozymes and their potential roles in the function of harderian gland. The high expression of mitochondrial CAVB at both mRNA and protein levels suggests a role in lipid synthesis, a key physiological process of the harderian gland.

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