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Dev Dyn. 1998 Jan;211(1):109-21.

Targeted disruption of the mouse villin gene does not impair the morphogenesis of microvilli.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0616, USA.


The small intestine is functionally dependent on the presence of the brush border, a tightly packed array of microvilli that forms the amplified apical surface of absorptive cells. In the core of each microvillus, actin filaments are bundled by two proteins, villin and fimbrin. Previous in vitro studies using antisense approaches indicated that villin plays an important role in the morphogenesis of microvilli. To examine the in vivo consequences of villin deficiency, we disrupted the mouse villin gene by targeted recombination in mouse embryonic stem cells. A beta-galactosidase cDNA was also introduced into the villin locus by the targeting event. Homozygous villin-deficient mice are viable, fertile, and display no gross abnormalities. Intact microvilli are present in the small intestine, colon, kidney proximal tubules, and liver bile canaliculi. Although subtle ultrastructural abnormalities can be detected in the actin cores of small intestinal microvilli, localization of sucrase isomaltase, brush border myosin I, and zonula occludens I to the microvillar surface of the small intestine is normal. Thus, in vivo, villin plays a minor or redundant role in the generation of microvilli in multiple absorptive tissues.

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