Cytosolic distribution of villin in M cells from mouse Peyer's patches correlates with the absence of a brush border

Gastroenterology. 1996 Feb;110(2):515-21. doi: 10.1053/gast.1996.v110.pm8566599.


Background & aims: The follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) of Peyer's patches mainly consists of two cell types: absorptive enterocytes with a brush border and M cells without this apical specialization. To study the controversial ontogeny of M cells (mesenchymal vs. epithelial origin), the expression pattern of tissue-specific cytoskeletal proteins, markers of cell origin that play a crucial role in the specific shape of epithelial cells and brush border assembly, was investigated.

Methods: The localization of cytokeratins, vimentin, and villin was determined on mouse FAE using immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy.

Results: Epithelial-specific cytokeratins were expressed in both absorptive enterocytes and M cells, whereas vimentin was not detected in mouse FAE. Villin, a tissue-specific, actin-binding protein of the brush border, was expressed in the two cell types. This protein had an unusual cytoplasmic distribution in FAE cells lacking a brush border and in cells having an intraepithelial pocket filled with lymphocytes.

Conclusions: The presence of villin and the absence of vimentin in M cells support the intestinal origin of M cells. The cytoplasmic distribution of villin provides a new identification criteria for M cells and reflects the reorganization of the F-actin network, which correlates with the inability of M cells to assemble a brush border.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microvilli / ultrastructure
  • Peyer's Patches / cytology
  • Peyer's Patches / metabolism*
  • Peyer's Patches / ultrastructure
  • Vimentin / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Vimentin
  • villin
  • Keratins