A new monoclonal antibody, PR 2D3, was raised against a crude homogenate of normal colorectal mucosa and found to react with the cells in the pericrypt sheath. It also reacted with smooth muscle throughout the body and, in specific sites, with those mesenchymal cells known as myofibroblasts. It did not react with cardiac or skeletal muscle, nor with fibroblasts. PR 2D3 is an IgG1 antibody and identifies a membrane component of about 140 K molecular weight. The pericrypt cells have been described as fibroblasts, but in view of the specificity of PR 2D3 for smooth muscle, and its selective staining of the colonic pericrypt cells, this cell type was re-examined for other smooth muscle properties. Ultrastructurally, the cells had many characteristics in common with smooth muscle and were identical with the myofibroblasts of the umbilical cord. On immunocytochemical examination they were found to contain desmin, myosin, and filamin. The confirmation that the pericrypt cells are myofibroblasts suggest that they have both contractile and secretory roles.
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