M cells play a central role in the initiation of mucosal immune responses. However, a primary source of difficulty for investigations of this is the lack of an available specific marker for bovine M cells. As M cells possess irregular and short microvilli, we investigated the distribution and localization of the microvillar proteins actin and villin by immunohistochemistry of the gut of calves. In ileum of the calf, actin and villin were clearly and continuously immunostained in the brush border of the villous epithelia, however, discontinuous immunostaining with patches of no staining were observed in follicle-associated epithelium (FAE). Electron microscopy revealed that M cells had irregular microvilli and lacked the typical brush border, and it was inferred that these patches of no staining might be the intercellular crevices of M cells. As the microvilli of M cells were very sparse, there were several areas of weak immunostaining in calf jejunal FAE. These results suggest that M cells in calf FAE are detectable by the absence of staining for actin and villin.
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