Progranulin (acrogranin/PC cell-derived growth factor/granulin-epithelin precursor) is expressed in the placenta, epidermis, microvasculature, and brain during murine development

Dev Dyn. 2003 Aug;227(4):593-9. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.10341.


The growth factor progranulin (acrogranin/PC-derived growth factor/granulin-epithelin precursor) promotes onset of blastocyst cavitation and is required for neonatal hypothalamic sexual differentiation. Little is known, however, of the range of developmental processes in which it is involved. We used in situ hybridization to investigate progranulin expression in murine embryos. Progranulin mRNA is expressed in maternal and embryonic components during early establishment of pregnancy. Abundant expression is observed in the early decidualizing uterine stroma and glands. In the embryo, the trophoblast giant cells at the interface of placental exchange sites (both choriovitelline and chorioallantoic placenta) show strong expression. The gastrulating epiblast and mesenchyme (intraembryonic and extraembryonic mesenchyme) all revealed activity. The allantois and yolk sac mesenchyme (site of early hemopoiesis) were positive, as were later phases of active vessel formation (pia mater of brain, epicardium of the heart). In the urogenital system, it was expressed in Sertoli cells and in kidney tubules. It was highly expressed in proliferating epidermal cells. During epidermal appendage formation, the early epithelial bud was positive, but the forming duct and differentiating adjacent mesenchyme was negative. It is widely distributed during central nervous system development and the peripheral nervous system (dorsal root ganglia and sympathetic ganglia). Based on the pattern of progranulin gene expression, we propose proliferative and developmental roles for progranulin in establishing pregnancy, during gastrulation, and during embryonic development of the epidermis, nervous system, blood vessel, formation, and spermatogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Embryo, Mammalian / embryology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Granulins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Progranulins


  • Granulins
  • Grn protein, mouse
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Progranulins