Few genes have been isolated which display specific expression in the proximal airways. A recently identified mouse cDNA, plunc, appears to be confined to the upper airways and nasopharyngeal epithelium, and may prove a useful marker for these regions. We now report the genomic cloning and characterization of the mouse plunc gene as well as its developmental expression in the nasal and airway epithelium. We also report the novel finding that plunc is also expressed in the medullary compartment of the murine thymus. The mouse gene contains nine exons and the intron-exon boundaries are conserved with those in the human homologue. At e14.5 plunc is expressed in the nasal epithelium and several days later is seen in the thymic lobes, but not in the lining of the tracheobronchial tree. Expression in the trachea and main-stem bronchi first appears at 1--2 days after birth. Tracheobronchial expression persists at high levels throughout adulthood, as do regional areas of nasal and thymic expression. Finally, we show that the human homologue is expressed in bronchial epithelium, suggesting a transcript that is evolutionarily conserved in the mammalian airway.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.