We have previously described the molecular cloning of a cDNA fragment synthesized from rat duodenal mRNA coding for a 9000-dalton vitamin D-induced calcium-binding protein (9-kDa CaBP) (3). We now report the use of this cloned cDNA to study the cytological distribution of 9-kDa CaBP mRNA in rat duodenum by in situ hybridization. Tissue sections, fixed in ethanol:acetic acid, were hybridized to the 3H-cDNA probe and processed for autoradiography. The specificity of the CaBP mRNA-DNA hybrid formation was checked using 3H-labeled plasmid pBR322 DNA as a control probe. 9k-Da CaBP mRNA, visualized by silver grains, was found only in the absorptive epithelial cells, and the concentration was greater in the cells at the villous tips than in those of the crypts. The 9k-Da CaBP mRNA was observed mainly in the cytoplasm of the columnar cells and less frequently in the nucleus. Labeling was not seen in the brush border and goblet cells. The submucosa, with Brunner's glands and muscularis, also showed no specific 9-kDa CaBP mRNA concentration. This demonstration of 9-kDa CaBP gene activity in the columnar cells of the rat duodenum illustrates the usefulness of in situ hybridization for characterization of specific cells involved in the expression of 1,25(OH)2D3 activity.
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