PubMed 25300645

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: TRP , TRPM , TRPM5

Title: Cholinergic epithelial cell with chemosensory traits in murine thymic medulla.

Authors: Alexandra Regina Panneck, Amir Rafiq, Burkhard Schütz, Aichurek Soultanova, Klaus Deckmann, Vladimir Chubanov, Thomas Gudermann, Eberhard Weihe, Gabriela Krasteva-Christ, Veronika Grau, Adriana del Rey, Wolfgang Kummer

Journal, date & volume: Cell Tissue Res., 2014 Dec , 358, 737-48

PubMed link:

Specialized epithelial cells with a tuft of apical microvilli ("brush cells") sense luminal content and initiate protective reflexes in response to potentially harmful substances. They utilize the canonical taste transduction cascade to detect "bitter" substances such as bacterial quorum-sensing molecules. In the respiratory tract, most of these cells are cholinergic and are approached by cholinoceptive sensory nerve fibers. Utilizing two different reporter mouse strains for the expression of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), we observed intense labeling of a subset of thymic medullary cells. ChAT expression was confirmed by in situ hybridization. These cells showed expression of villin, a brush cell marker protein, and ultrastructurally exhibited lateral microvilli. They did not express neuroendocrine (chromogranin A, PGP9.5) or thymocyte (CD3) markers but rather thymic epithelial (CK8, CK18) markers and were immunoreactive for components of the taste transduction cascade such as Gα-gustducin, transient receptor potential melastatin-like subtype 5 channel (TRPM5), and phospholipase Cβ2. Reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction confirmed the expression of Gα-gustducin, TRPM5, and phospholipase Cβ2. Thymic "cholinergic chemosensory cells" were often in direct contact with medullary epithelial cells expressing the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit α3. These cells have recently been identified as terminally differentiated epithelial cells (Hassall's corpuscle-like structures in mice). Contacts with nerve fibers (identified by PGP9.5 and CGRP antibodies), however, were not observed. Our data identify, in the thymus, a previously unrecognized presumptive chemosensitive cell that probably utilizes acetylcholine for paracrine signaling. This cell might participate in intrathymic infection-sensing mechanisms.