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Induction of keratinocyte type-I transglutaminase in epithelial cells of the rat


Using immunogold-silver techniques, we have demonstrated that, in rats, type-I (keratinocyte) transglutaminase is expressed primarily in stratified squamous epithelia of the integument, the upper digestive tract, and the lower female genital tract. In these epithelia, the enzyme was found to be present predominantly in the granular layer, but was evident at low levels even in the basal layer, especially in the genital tract. No immunoreactivity was detected in glandular, columnar, or transitional epithelia or in soft tissues. However, considerable enzyme antigenicity was observed in the endometrium and in major ducts of the pancreas and mammary glands of near-term pregnant and early postpartum females. In cultures, substantial immunoreactivity was readily identifiable not only in epidermal, vaginal, and esophageal epithelial cells (immunopositive in vivo), but also in urinary bladder, seminal vesicle, and tracheal epithelial cells (immunonegative in vivo). Primary epithelial outgrowths from bladder and seminal vesicle tissue explants were immunopositive, demonstrating rapid adaptation to the culture environment. These results reveal three distinct levels of regulation of transglutaminase expression in various cell types: during the differentiation of keratinocytes, during pregnancy, being evident principally in the endometrium but detectable elsewhere as well, and during the cultivation of certain epithelia which do not normally express the enzyme in vivo. We conclude that type-I transglutaminase may be a valuable marker for elucidating the regulation of normal epithelial differentiation and squamous metaplasia.

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