Distribution and Ultrastructure of Interstitial Cells of Cajal in the Mouse Colon, Using Antibodies to Kit and Kit(W-lacZ) Mice

Cell Tissue Res. 2000 Nov;302(2):155-70. doi: 10.1007/s004419900170.


The roles of the interstitial cells of Cajal in the stomach and intestine are becoming increasingly clear. Interstitial cells of Cajal in the colon are less well known, however. We studied the development and distribution of the interstitial cells of Cajal in the mouse colon, using the tyrosine kinase receptor Kit as a marker. Sections and whole mounts were studied by confocal microscopy after double immunofluorescence with specific antibodies. The ultrastructure of Kit-expressing cells was examined by electron microcopy in KitW-lacz/+ transgenic mice, which carry the lacz gene inserted in place of the first exon of the Kit gene. In the subserosa, the interstitial cells of Cajal formed a two-dimensional plexus. In the myenteric area, the interstitial cells of Cajal formed a dense plexus that gradually merged with the interstitial cells of Cajal in the outer half of the circular muscle. The inner half of the circular layer was devoid of interstitial cells of Cajal whereas in the submuscular region the interstitial cells of Cajal formed a two-dimensional plexus. Tertiary nerves with various chemical codings closely followed interstitial cell of Cajal processes. By electron microscopy, Kit-expressing cells in the outer parts of the musculature had scattered caveolae, inconspicuous basal lamina and numerous mitochondria, whereas in the submuscular region they had more pronounced myoid features. Kit-expressing cells in the mouse colon are identifiable as interstitial cells of Cajal by their ultrastructure. The interstitial cells of Cajal in the mouse colon mature postnatally. They are organized into a characteristic plexus, close to the nerves with various chemical codings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Colon / cytology*
  • Colon / growth & development
  • Colon / innervation
  • Colon / ultrastructure
  • Enteric Nervous System / cytology
  • Enteric Nervous System / metabolism
  • Enteric Nervous System / ultrastructure
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle, Smooth / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth / innervation
  • Muscle, Smooth / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Nuclear Localization Signals / genetics
  • Nuclear Localization Signals / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / immunology
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Antibodies
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • beta-Galactosidase