Protein kinases expressed by interstitial cells of Cajal

Daniel P. Poole, Trung Van Nguyen, Mitsuhisa Kawai, John B. Furness

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are involved in the generation of electrical rhythmicity of intestinal muscle and in the transduction of neural inputs in the gut. Although the expression of receptors for neurotransmitters and hormones and some second messengers have been investigated in ICC, the protein kinases present in these cells have not been well documented. This study has demonstrated the immunohistochemical localisation of PKA, PKC γ and PKC θ in ICC that were identified by the known ICC marker, c-Kit, in the guinea-pig gut. Other PKCs, PKC α, β, δ, ε, η, ι and λ, and Ca2+-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II were not localised in ICC. Double labelling studies were conducted on longitudinal muscle-myenteric plexus and external muscle-myenteric plexus preparations of the oesophagus, stomach (fundus, corpus and antrum), duodenum, distal ileum, caecum, proximal and distal colon, and rectum. The three protein kinases were detected in c-Kit-immunoreactive ICC at the level of the myenteric plexus (IC-MY), in the muscle (IC-IM) and at the level of the deep muscular plexus (IC-DMP) in the small intestine. PKA was found in over 90% of IC-IM in all regions examined, and in over 90% of IC-MY in the gastric body and antrum and throughout the small and large intestines. PKC γ was in the majority of ICC in the gastric body and antrum and in the small intestine, but was largely absent from ICC in the oesophagus, proximal stomach and large intestine. PKC θ occurred in the majority of ICC in all regions except the rectum. The intensity of staining was greatest for CPKA, with PKC γ giving comparatively weak labelling of ICC. PKA was also detected in myenteric neurons, smooth muscle, macrophages and fibroblast-like cells. PKC γ labelling occurred in large, multipolar neurons throughout the small and large intestine, as well as in lymph vessels and in capillaries. It is concluded that PKA, PKC γ and PKC θ are all present in ICC, with the differences in their localisations suggesting specific roles for each in ICC function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Enteric nervous system
  • Interstitial cells of Cajal
  • Protein kinase A
  • Protein kinase C

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