Cellular localization of guanylin and uroguanylin mRNAs in human and rat duodenal and colonic mucosa

Cell Tissue Res. 2016 Aug;365(2):331-41. doi: 10.1007/s00441-016-2393-y. Epub 2016 Apr 5.


Guanylin (GUCA2A/Guca2a/GN) and uroguanylin (GUCA2B/Guca2b/UGN) are expressed in the gastrointestinal tract and have been implicated in ion and fluid homeostasis, satiety, abdominal pain, growth and intestinal barrier integrity. Their cellular sources are debated and include goblet cells, entero-/colonocytes, enteroendocrine (EE) cells and tuft cells. We therefore investigated the cellular sources of GN and UGN mRNAs in human and rat duodenal and colonic epithelium with in situ hybridization (ISH) to determine co-expression with Chromogranin A (CHGA/Chga/CgA; enterochromaffin [EC] cells), defensin alpha 6 (DEFA6/Defa6; Paneth cells), mucin 2 (MUC2/Muc2; goblet cells) and selected tuft cell markers. GUCA2A/Guca2a expression was localized to goblet cells and colonocytes in human and rat colon. In human duodenum, GUCA2A was expressed in Paneth cells and was scarce in villous epithelial cells. In rat duodenum, Guca2a was only localized to goblet cells. Guca2b was focally expressed in rat colon. In human and rat duodenum and in human colon, GUCA2B/Guca2b was expressed in dispersed solitary epithelial cells, some with a tuft cell-like appearance. Neither GUCA2A nor GUCA2B were co-expressed with CHGA in human duodenal cells. Consequently, EC cells are probably not the major source of human GN or UGN but other EE cells as a source of GN or UGN are not entirely excluded. No convincing overlap with tuft cell markers was found. For the first time, we demonstrate the cellular expression of GUCA2B in human duodenum. The specific cellular distribution of both GN and UGN differs between duodenum and colon and between human and rat intestines.

Keywords: Chromogranin A; Enteroendocrine cells; Guanylin; Tuft cells; Uroguanylin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Colon / cytology
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Duodenum / cytology
  • Duodenum / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Natriuretic Peptides / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • Natriuretic Peptides
  • guanylin
  • uroguanylin