Differential expression of lectin-binding sites defines mouse intestinal M-cells

J Histochem Cytochem. 1993 Nov;41(11):1679-87. doi: 10.1177/41.11.7691933.


We investigated the binding of four lectins to the follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) overlying fixed mouse small intestinal Peyer's patches to identify M-cell-specific surface markers. Wheat germ agglutinin and peanut agglutinin displayed heterogeneous staining patterns, binding most avidly to the intestine goblet cells. In contrast, the lectins Ulex europaeus 1 (UEA 1) and Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (winged bean; WBA) were almost exclusively M-cell specific. When confocal laser scanning images of tissues stained with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated UEA1 or WBA were compared with the appearance of the same tissues under the scanning electron microscope (SEM), UEA1 strongly stained 97.2% (106/109) of M-cells, 0.6% (3/516) enterocytes, and 0% (0/28) goblet cells, whereas WBA stained 100% (83/83) M-cells, 1.7% (6/361) enterocytes, and 5.3% (1/19) goblet cells. The M-cell specificity of the lectin binding was further demonstrated by localization of horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-conjugated lectins under the transmission electron microscope (TEM). This is the first demonstration of carbohydrates in the glycocalyx of M-cells that are not expressed elsewhere on the FAE surface. These carbohydrates not only provide a means to identify mouse M-cells by LM but may also contribute to the occurrence of specific interactions between microorganisms and the M-cell apical membrane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Female
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Intestine, Small / ultrastructure
  • Lectins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Peyer's Patches / metabolism*
  • Peyer's Patches / ultrastructure
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Lectins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate