Brush border in enterocytes is a cell surface specialization intimately associated with terminal differentiation of these cells. HT29-18, a clone derived from the HT-29 human colonic adenocarcinoma cell line, and HT29-18-C1, a subclone from HT29-18 described in the companion paper (Huet, C., C. Sahuquillo-Merino, E. Coudrier, and D. Louvard, 1987, J. Cell Biol., 105:345-357), undergo terminal differentiation with brush borders in the absence of glucose or upon replacement of glucose by galactose in the medium. Taking advantage of this clone and its subclone which can be manipulated in vitro, we have studied the synthesis and subcellular distribution of villin, one major protein in the microvillus core of the brush border. For this study, a monoclonal antibody against villin (BDID2C3) has been isolated and characterized in detail. In addition an ELISA has been set up to measure villin accurately in total cell extracts. Villin content in differentiated HT29-18 cells is close to that seen in normal human colonic cells but 10 times lower in undifferentiated HT29-18 cells. The rate of villin synthesis is dramatically increased in the course of enterocytic differentiation, while villin is remarkably stable after synthesis. We have recently shown, using a cDNA probe for villin, that this change is controlled either at the transcription level or by RNA stabilization (Pringault, E., M. Arpin, A. Garcia, J. Finidori, and D. Louvard, 1986, EMBO (Eur. Mol. Biol. Organ.) J., 5:3119-3124). As shown by immunofluorescence and immunogold labelings, villin is targeted to the brush border area of differentiated HT29-18 cells but remains diffusely distributed in undifferentiated ones.

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