In mammals, aldosterone is produced in the zona glomerulosa (zG), the outermost layer of the adrenal cortex, whereas glucocorticoids are produced in adjacent zona fasciculata (zF). However, the cellular mechanisms controlling the zonal development and the differential hormone production (i.e. functional zonation) are poorly understood. To explore the mechanisms, we defined zone-specific transcripts in this study. Eleven-week-old male rats were used and adrenal tissues were collected from zG and zF using laser-capture microdissection. RNA was isolated, biotin labeled, amplified, and hybridized to Illumina microarray chips. The microarray data were compared by fold change calculations. In zG, 235 transcripts showed more than a 2-fold up-regulation compared to zF with statistical significance. Similarly, 231 transcripts showed up-regulation in zF. The microarray findings were validated using quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemical staining on selected transcripts, including Cyp11b2 (zG/zF: 214.2x), Rgs4 (68.4x), Smoc2 (49.3x), and Mia1 (43.1x) in zG as well as Ddah1 (zF/zG 16.2x), Cidea (15.5x), Frzb (9.5x), and Hsd11b2 (8.3x) in zF. The lists of transcripts obtained in the current study will be an invaluable tool for the elucidation of cellular mechanisms leading to zG and zF functional zonation.
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