Expression of trypsin by epithelial cells of various tissues, leukocytes, and neurons in human and mouse

Am J Pathol. 1998 Sep;153(3):937-44. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65635-0.


It has long been believed that trypsin is normally synthesized only in the pancreas. In the present study, expression of trypsin in human and mouse nonpancreatic tissues was examined. Northern blot analysis of normal human tissues indicated that the trypsin gene is expressed at high levels in the pancreas and spleen and considerably in the small intestine. However, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry demonstrated that trypsin is widely expressed in epithelial cells of the skin, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, lung, kidney, liver, and extrahepatic bile duct, as well as splenic and neuronal cells. In the spleen, trypsin message was detected in macrophages, monocytes, and lymphocytes in the white pulp. In the brain, it was detected in the nerve cells of the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Analysis by gelatin zymography confirmed the presence of a latent or an active form of trypsin in various normal mouse tissues. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis also confirmed the expression of trypsin genes in the spleen, liver, kidney, and brain of normal mice. Such a broad distribution of trypsin suggests its general roles in the maintenance of normal epithelial cell functions, the immune defense system, and the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Leukocytes / cytology
  • Leukocytes / enzymology*
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Trypsin / genetics
  • Trypsin / metabolism*


  • DNA Primers
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Trypsin