Endothelin: Visualization of mRNAs by in situ hybridization provides evidence for local action

M. W. MacCumber, C. A. Ross, B. M. Glaser, S. H. Snyder

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379 Scopus citations


Endothelin (ET) is a recently identified vasoactive peptide with three isoforms for which three genes have been cloned. The cellular sites of synthesis of this peptide have not yet been identified in vivo. Using Northern blot analysis, we have detected two forms of ET mRNA in rat tissues: a 3.7-kilobase form in the kidney, eye, and brain, a 2.5-kilobase form in the intestine, and both forms in the lung. We have localized these forms of ET mRNA in several rat tissues using in situ hybridization. In the 19-day rat fetus, ET mRNA is highest in the lung, intestine, and meninges. At high resolution, ET mRNA is localized in the lung to respiratory epithelial cells of bronchioles and apparently in blood vessels. In adult tissues, ET mRNA is present throughout the lung, in the renal medulla vasa recta, and in the iris of the eye. ET mRNA is synthesized in close proximity to ET binding sites in many organs (e.g., lung, kidney, intestine, and eye), suggesting a local action of this peptide. However, in other areas (e.g., heart and renal cortex), ET binding sites are present in the absence of ET mRNA, suggesting an action of ET from the bloodstream or from neurons. Northern blot analysis of ET mRNA in microvascular endothelial cells in culture indicates that ET is synthesized in small blood vessels and regulated similarly to its regulation in large vessels. Our results provide evidence that ET, like other regulatory peptides, may serve in several tissues as a neuromodulator or local hormone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7285-7289
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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