Expression of the Rai (Shc C) adaptor protein in the human enteric nervous system

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Abstract

The adaptor protein Rai (ShcC/N-Shc) is almost exclusively present in the nervous system, although little is documented about its expression in the gut and the enteric nervous system (ENS). As Rai is a physiological substrate of Ret, an important factor for the development of ENS, we have evaluated the expression of Rai in the ENS in various segments of the human gastrointestinal tract. The expression of Rai was assessed by immunohistochemistry in disease-free human gut samples (oesophagus, stomach, small bowel and colon) obtained from subjects undergoing surgical procedures. Rai was not expressed in the epithelia or lymphoid tissue, whereas a moderate level of expression was observed in the endothelial cells of blood vessels and on the outer membrane of smooth muscle cells in both the muscularis mucosae and the muscularis propria. In the ENS, strong positivity was observed only in enteric glial cells, overlapping with GFAP and S100. In conclusion, Rai is expressed in the human gut, especially in the enteric glial cells. We conclude that Rai may provide an additional marker for this cell type.

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