Intestinal NHE8 is highly expressed in goblet cells and its expression is subject to TNF-α regulation

Hua Xu, Qingtian Li, Yang Zhao, Jing Li, Fayez K. Ghishan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


While the intestine plays an important role in digestion and absorption, the mucus lining the epithelium represents a pivotal function in mucosal protection. Goblet cells are scattered in both the crypts and among enterocytes, and they secrete an important component of mucus, mucin. We have reported that sodium/hydrogen exchanger (NHE) 8 is a novel player in mucosal protection, since loss of NHE8 function resulted in reduced mucin production and increased bacterial adhesion. While NHE8 has been shown to be expressed in enterocytes and its expression is reduced during intestinal inflammation, nothing is known about the role of NHE8 in goblet cells. This current study is designed to define the expression of NHE8 and the role of TNF-α in the regulation of NHE8 in goblet cells. Using HT29-MTX cells as an in vitro model, we detected abundant NHE8 mRNA in goblet cells. Immunohistochemical staining localized NHE8 protein on the plasma membrane and in the intracellular compartments in goblet cells. Furthermore, NHE8 expression in goblet cells is regulated by the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α. The expression of NHE8 in HT29- MTX cells was significantly reduced at both mRNA and protein levels in the presence of TNF-α. This inhibition of NHE8 mRNA expression could be blocked by the transcriptional inhibitor actinomycin D. Promoter reporter assay showed that NHE8 promoter activity was indeed reduced by TNF-α. Mechanistically, TNF-α reduced Sp3 protein binding to the human NHE8 basal promoter region. Therefore, NHE8 is expressed in goblet cells, and the inflammatory cytokine TNF-α downregulates NHE8 expression by a transcriptional mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G64-G69
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Sodium/hydrogen exchanger
  • Tumor necrosis factor-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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