Alpha1,4-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase encoding gene EXTL3 expression pattern in mouse adult and developing tissues with special attention to the pancreas

Anat Embryol (Berl). 2003 Dec;207(4-5):333-41. doi: 10.1007/s00429-003-0348-z. Epub 2003 Nov 15.


EXTL3 encodes alpha1,4-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases I and II enzymes, which are involved in chain initiation and elongation of heparan sulfate (HS) biosynthesis. HS proteoglycans are critically involved in a variety of biological phenomena at various levels of complexity in adult and embryonic lives. Dedicated functions of HS proteoglycans are due to variable HS chains that interact with different cellular proteins, and can be regulated by their synthesizing enzymes. EXTL3 protein is also a putative receptor for Reg protein, a growth signal mediator for the beta-cells of the pancreas. The present Northern blot analysis revealed two EXTL3 transcripts (6.2 and 3.4 kb), which were differentially expressed in different mouse adult tissues. The strongest expression was in the adult brain and pancreas. In the adult pancreas, a comparable intensity of both signals was detected. In the embryonic pancreas, the longer transcript was predominant, and showed a biphasic expression pattern with a peak at E11.5, whereas the shorter one showed a steady level of expression throughout the whole period of pancreatic development. By in situ hybridization, the acini of adults and embryos were strong positive for EXTL3 mRNA. Mature islets of Langerhans gave a weak signal, whereas the developing islets showed moderately positive reaction albeit less intense than the acini. In situ hybridization revealed a wide and differential expression pattern of EXTL3 mRNA in embryonic tissues. At the early stages, intense reaction was found in the developing neurons of the brain and spinal cord and in the epithelia of the developing GIT, pancreas, liver and kidney of embryos. Our data suggested that EXTL3 expression is developmentally regulated, and may contribute to the regulated production of HS in different adult and embryonic tissues.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases / genetics*
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases / metabolism
  • Organogenesis
  • Pancreas / embryology
  • Pancreas / enzymology*
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • EXTL3 protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases