Expression of the cystic fibrosis gene in human development.
Harris A., Chalkley G., Goodman S., Coleman L.
The specialised epithelia lining the respiratory tract, pancreatic ducts, male genital ducts and sweat gland ducts are defective in the severe inherited disease, cystic fibrosis (CF). We have looked at the expression of the CF gene in human fetal tissues to throw light on the development of function in specialised ductal epithelia and to determine the age of onset of the CF disease process. The CF gene is already seen to be transcribed in mid-trimester fetal lung, pancreas and male genital ducts. Hence, by this developmental stage, and before they are fully differentiated, these epithelia have the capability to perform important transport functions. Epithelial cell cultures derived from fetal pancreas and male genital ducts maintain expression of the CF gene in vitro and so form good models for analysing CF gene function and differentiation of these specialised epithelia.