Serine protease inhibitors (SERPINs) comprise the largest superfamily of protease inhibitors and appear to be ubiquitously expressed in a variety of species. Of these, squamous cell carcinoma antigen 1 (SCCA1), also known as a SERPINB3, was first identified in squamous cell carcinoma tissue from the cervix of women. However, there is little known about the expression and hormonal regulation of SERPINB3 in chickens. Therefore, the avian SERPINB3 gene was compared with those of other species with respect to structure, phylogenetic evolution and tissue- and cell-specific expression in hens. Chicken SERPINB3 has moderate homology to mammalian SERPINB3 proteins (36-47%). Of particular note, SERPINB3 mRNA was most abundant in the chicken oviduct and cell-specific expression was in glandular (GE) and luminal (LE) epithelial cells of the oviduct of laying hens. Treatment of young chicks with DES (diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic nonsteroidal estrogen) induced SERPINB3 mRNA and protein in GE and LE, but not in other cell types of the oviduct. Western blot analyses determined that immunoreactive SERPINB3 protein was also increased by DES in LE and GE of the oviduct of chicks. Collectively, these results indicate that SERPINB3 is an estrogen-induced gene expressed only in LE and GE of the chicken oviduct and implicate SERPINB3 in regulation of oviduct development and egg formation.
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