Localized expression of genes related to carbohydrate and lipid absorption along the crypt-villus axis of rat jejunum

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Dec;1790(12):1624-35. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2009.08.004. Epub 2009 Aug 26.


Background: Enterocytes of the jejunum express several genes related to digestion/absorption of nutrients and ions when these cells rapidly differentiate from crypt to villus cells. However, it is unknown whether the distribution of extensive gene expression along the villus-crypt axis of the jejunum is altered during differentiation.

Methods: We investigated the changes in jejunal gene expression during differentiation from crypt to villus cells in rats using DNA microarray analysis on cryostat sections of the villus-crypt columns.

Results: During differentiation, the expression of many genes related to cell growth rapidly decreased, while expression of genes related to digestion and absorption of nutrients and ions increased. Expression of a subset of genes related to the digestion and absorption of starch and sucrose was highest at the middle of the villi, whereas expression of genes related to dietary fat absorption was highest at the top of the villi. Several transcriptional factors such as Pdx1, Foxa2 and Thra were expressed in the crypt, whereas Klf15 was highly expressed during the crypt-villus transition. Expression of Klf4 and Pparg was highest at the top of the villi.

Conclusions: Subsets of genes related to the digestion and absorption of starch/sucrose and dietary fat as well as their transcriptional factors/co-factors are expressed in the specific locations along the crypt-villus axis.

General significance: The jejunum may absorb nutrients effectively by simultaneously expressing subsets of genes along the villus-crypt axis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / genetics*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Digestion / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Intestinal Absorption / genetics*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Jejunum / metabolism*
  • Kruppel-Like Factor 4
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics*
  • Male
  • Nucleocytoplasmic Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Nucleocytoplasmic Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors
  • Klf4 protein, rat
  • Kruppel-Like Factor 4
  • Nucleocytoplasmic Transport Proteins