The rodent intestinal mucosa undergoes a remarkable morphogenesis as the crypt-villus axis is formed. Endoderm-mesenchymal interactions play a critical role in this process. Epimorphin is a mesenchymal protein postulated to play a role in lung and skin morphogenesis. The rat homologue, syntaxin 2, belongs to a family of integral membrane proteins that function in vesicle docking and fusion. To clarify its role in fetal gut morphogenesis, epimorphin expression was examined during ontogeny, in an isograft model of ischemic injury and mucosal repair, and during intestinal adaptation after small bowel resection. Epimorphin/syntaxin 2 mRNA levels were increased in fetal gut during lumen formation and villus morphogenesis. mRNA levels remained elevated in the first 2 wk after birth and then declined at weaning. In situ hybridization showed epimorphin/ syntaxin 2 mRNA in gestational day 14 (G14) and G15 intestinal mesenchymal cells and in the mucosal lamina propria during villus formation. Epimorphin/syntaxin 2 mRNA expression increased during villus repair in the isograft. In contrast, in the early stages of intestinal adaptation after small bowel resection, epimorphin/syntaxin 2 mRNA expression was suppressed in the adapting gut. We conclude the cell-specific and temporal patterns of epimorphin expression in the models used in this study suggest a role in the morphogenesis of the crypt-villus axis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G114-G124
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number1 38-1
StatePublished - Jul 1998


  • Intestine
  • Mesenchyme
  • Ontogeny
  • Organogenesis


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