GP2 is a membrane-associated secretory protein originally identified in zymogen granules of pancreatic acinar cells. Recently, this glycoprotein has attracted attention as a marker substance of M cells of Peyer’s patches and for its involvement in the selective uptake of pathological bacteria via M cells. When we stained the conjunctiva and tear ducts of mice using a GP2 antibody, all goblet cells in the squamous stratified epithelium of the conjunctiva were intensely immunolabeled, while goblet cells in the intestine and airway were devoid of the immunoreactivity, indicating that the conjunctiva contains a special type of goblet cell. Further immunostaining for GP-2 labeled dispersed cells of peculiar shapes within the stratified squamous epithelium in the lacrimal canaliculi, lacrimal sac, and nasolacrimal duct. The GP2-immunoreactive cells in the tear duct projected arched or branched processes toward the basement membrane. Electron-microscopically, immunogold particles for GP2 outlined the basolateral plasma membrane of both the conjuntival goblet cells and the peculiarly shaped cells in the tear duct. Intracellularly, GP2 products of the goblet cells were localized around secretory granules in the apical cytoplasm and those of the tear duct cells inside the vesicles. The luminal contents close to apical plasma membrane were heavily labeled with immunogold particles, suggesting an exocytosis-based targeting of GP2 to the plasma membrane and its release into the lumen. The possible function of GP2 in tear ducts is discussed in relation to a defense system against invasive microoranisms and antigens.
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