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Mech Dev. 2009 May-Jun;126(5-6):449-63. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2009.01.003. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

Cross-fostering of the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) pouch young accelerates fore-stomach maturation.

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Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Vic., Australia.


There are two phases of fore-stomach development during the first 200 days of pouch life in tammar wallaby. For the first 170 days, the mucosa displays an immature gastric glandular phenotype that changes to a cardia glandular phenotype, which remains for the rest of the animal's life. During this 200-day period after birth, the pouch young (PY) is dependent on maternal milk, which progressively changes in composition. We showed previously that PY cross-fostered to host mothers at a later stage of lactation accelerated development. In this study, we investigated whether cross-fostering and exposure to late lactation stage milk affected the transition to cardia glandular phenotype. In fostered PY fore-stomach, there was increased apoptosis, but no change in cell proliferation. The parietal cell population was significantly reduced, and expression of gastric glandular phenotype marker genes (ATP4A, GKN2, GHRL and NDRG2) was down-regulated, suggesting down-regulation of gastric phenotype in fostered PY fore-stomach. The expression of cardia glandular phenotype genes (MUC4, KRT20, CSTB, ITLN2 and LPLUNC1) was not changed in fostered PY. These data suggest that fore-stomach maturation proceeds via two temporally distinct processes: down-regulation of gastric glandular phenotype and initiation of cardia glandular phenotype. In fostered PY, these two processes appear uncoupled, as gastric glandular phenotype was down-regulated but cardia glandular phenotype was not initiated. We propose that milk from later stages of lactation and/or herbage consumed by the PY may play independent roles in regulating these two processes.

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