In order to contribute clarifying mechanisms operating in nose chemosensory epithelia and their developmental patterns, we analysed the expression of different epithelial membrane transporters as well as the Clara cell secretory protein, CC26 in the olfactory, vomeronasal organ (VNO), and respiratory epithelia of embryonic (E13 to E19) and postnatal (P8 to P60) mice by means of immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Results showed that CC26, cAMP-activated chloride channel (CFTR), and the water channel protein aquaporin 2, 3, 4, and 5 (AQP2, AQP3, AQP4, AQP5) are expressed in developing to adult chemosensory epithelia with differential timing; moreover, their pattern of expression is not identical in VNO and olfactory epithelia as well as the corresponding associated glands; co-localization experiments using olfactory marker protein showed that CFTR, CC26 and AQP4 are not expressed in olfactory neurones. CFTR is expressed in sustentacular cells of the VNO and olfactory epithelium as well as blood vessels of the underlying mucosa, and VNO (but not Bowman's) glands; a similar pattern (excluding blood vessels) is present for AQP2; AQP4 is found in the two chemosensory epithelia and in Bowman's glands. AQP3 is expressed in the olfactory epithelium and the associated Bowman's glands, but not in the VNO chemosensory epithelium and glands. AQP5 is expressed in the olfactory epithelium and both Bowman's and VNO glands. These results indicate that water/ions handling as well as antioxidant mechanisms operating at the surface and/or inside the nose chemosensory epithelia start developing in utero and are maintained up to sexual maturity. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Develop Neurobiol, 2011.
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