Tuft cells (TCs) are minor components of gastrointestinal epithelia, characterized by apical tufts and spool-shaped somas. The lack of reliable TC-markers has hindered the elucidation of its role. We developed site-specific and phosphorylation-status–specific antibodies against Girdin at tyrosine-1798 (pY1798) and found pY1798 immunostaining of mouse jejunum clearly depicted epithelial cells closely resembling TCs. This study aimed to validate pY1798 as a TC-marker. Double-fluorescence staining of intestines was performed with pY1798 and known TC-markers, for example, hematopoietic-prostaglandin-D-synthase (HPGDS), or doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1). Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated from cell counts to determine whether two markers were attracting (OR<1) or repelling (OR>1). In consequence, pY1798 signals strongly attracted those of known TC-markers. ORs for HPGDS in mouse stomach, small intestine, and colon were 0 for all, and 0.08 for DCLK1 in human small intestine. pY1798-positive cells in jejunum were distinct from other minor epithelial cells, including goblet, Paneth, and neuroendocrine cells. Thus, pY1798 was validated as a TC-marker. Interestingly, apoptosis inducers significantly increased relative TC frequencies despite the absence of proliferation at baseline. In conclusion, pY1798 is a novel TC-marker. Selective tyrosine phosphorylation and possible resistance to apoptosis inducers implied the activation of certain kinase(s) in TCs, which may become a clue to elucidate the enigmatic roles of TCs.
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