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J Biol Chem. 1989 Jun 5;264(16):9485-90.

The alpha 1-antitrypsin gene is expressed in a human intestinal epithelial cell line.

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Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.


alpha 1-Antitrypsin (alpha 1-AT) is considered a typical plasma protein and a prototype of the serine proteinase inhibitor (serpin) family. It is synthesized in hepatocytes and, to a lesser extent, in macrophages. In this study we show that the alpha 1-AT gene is also expressed in human intestine and in a human colonic epithelial tumor cell line, Caco2. A single 1.6-kilobase alpha 1-AT-specific mRNA is present in jejunum and in Caco2 cells. It is identical in apparent size to that present in human hepatoma HepG2 cells but slightly smaller than that present in human macrophages, cells in which an alternative upstream transcriptional start site is used. Synthesis and secretion of alpha 1-AT in Caco2 cells is similar to that in HepG2 cells. It is synthesized as an approximately 52-kDa precursor polypeptide, converted to its mature, fully glycosylated 55-kDa form intracellularly, and the native protein is secreted with a half-time of 37 min. Functionally active alpha 1-AT is secreted into the basolateral and apical (luminal) fluid in pulse-chase labeling experiments of Caco2 cells cultured in polarized orientation on collagen-coated nitrocellulose membranes. Expression of alpha 1-AT in Caco2 enterocytes is not affected by soluble factors that regulate expression of alpha 1-AT in macrophages and hepatocytes. However, expression of alpha 1-AT increases markedly in Caco2 cells as they differentiate into enteric villous-type cells.

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