Activin A regulates growth of gastro-intestinal epithelial cells by mediating epithelial-mesenchymal interaction

Authors

  • Hiroshi Fukamachi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
    2. Department of Molecular Oncology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Shinko Kato,

    1. Faculty of Community Health Care, Department of Nursing, Teikyo Heisei University, Ichihara-city, Chiba, Japan
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  • Makoto Asashima,

    1. Research Center for Stem Cell Engineering, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
    2. Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Masao Ichinose,

    1. Second Department of Internal Medicine, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan
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  • Yasuhito Yuasa

    1. Department of Molecular Oncology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan
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Abstract

The importance of epithelial–mesenchymal interaction on the development of gastro-intestinal (GI) organs has been repeatedly reported, but its molecular mechanism has not been fully understood though several factors including hepatocyte growth factor and endothelin-3 have been shown to mediate it. Activins have been demonstrated to play important roles in the regulation of organogenesis in vertebrates, but their roles in the regulation of growth and differentiation of GI organs remain to be solved. In the present study, we examined expression of activins in developing rat GI tract, and found that inhibin bA encoding activin A was specifically expressed by GI mesenchymes, while inhibin bB encoding activin B was expressed by both epithelial and mesenchymal components. We then examined the effect of activin A on the growth of fetal rat GI epithelial cells in primary culture. We found that activin A inhibited the growth of forestomach and glandular stomach epithelial cells while it stimulated the growth of colonic epithelial cells. These results suggest that activin A secreted from GI mesenchymes region-specifically regulates the growth of attaching epithelial cells. We thus conclude that activin A mediates epithelial-mesenchymal interaction in the developing GI tract.

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