Tetraspans transmembrane family (TSTF) members, also known as tetraspanin superfamily, have various effects on cell proliferation, motility, and adhesion not only in hematopoietic cells, but also in other type of cells. However, little is known about their expression in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The authors characterized immunohistologically the localization of six members of TSTF (CD9, CD37, CD53, CD63, CD81, and CD82) in the normal epithelium from esophagus to colon. CD9 and CD82 molecules were strongly expressed in all epithelial surface membranes, from esophagus to colon, and their staining pattern was quite similar. Expression of CD37 was not detectable throughout the GI tract. Expression of CD53 was barely detectable. Expression of CD63 was clearly detected distal to the stomach, including the duodenum, small intestine, and colon. On the contrary, expression of CD81 was detected only in the esophagus - confined to a few layers from the basal layer. From these data it seems likely that the expression of TSTF molecules might be regulated differentially depending on the site of the GI tract.
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