Skip to main content

Brush border protocadherin CDHR2 promotes the elongation and maximized packing of microvilli in vivo


Pinette JA , Mao S , Millis BA , Krystofiak ES , Faust JJ , Tyska MJ , . Molecular biology of the cell. 2018 11 7; (). mbcE18090558


Transporting epithelial cells optimize their morphology for solute uptake by building an apical specialization: a dense array of microvilli that serves to increase membrane surface area. In the intestinal tract, individual cells build thousands of microvilli, which pack tightly to form the brush border. Recent studies implicate adhesion molecule CDHR2 in the regulation of microvillar packing via the formation of adhesion complexes between the tips of adjacent protrusions. To gain insight on how CDHR2 contributes to brush border morphogenesis and enterocyte function under native in vivo conditions, we generated mice lacking CDHR2 expression in the intestinal tract. Although CDHR2 KO mice are viable, body weight trends lower and careful examination of tissue, cell, and brush border morphology revealed several perturbations that likely contribute to reduced functional capacity of KO intestine. In the absence of CDHR2, microvilli are significantly shorter, and exhibit disordered packing and a 30% decrease in packing density. These structural perturbations are linked to decreased levels of key solute processing and transporting factors in the brush border. Thus, CDHR2 functions to elongate microvilli and maximize their numbers on the apical surface, which together serve to increase the functional capacity of enterocyte.