- BACKGROUND: Interstitial cells of Cajal associated with the submuscular plexus (ICC-SMP) generate omnipresent slow-wave activity in the colon and are associated with prominent motor patterns. Our aim was to investigate colon motor dysfunction in W/W(v) mice in which the ICC are reportedly reduced. METHODS: Whole organ colon motility was studied using spatio-temporal mapping; immunohistochemical staining was carried out for c-Kit and Ano1; calcium imaging was applied to ICC-SMP. KEY RESULTS: Discrepancies between Ano1 and c-Kit staining were found in both wild-type and W/W(v) colon. ICC-SMP were reduced to ~50% in the W/W(v) mouse colon according to c-Kit immunohistochemistry, but Ano1 staining indicated a normal network of ICC-SMP. The latter was consistent with rhythmic calcium transients occurring at the submucosal border of the colon in W/W(v) mice, similar to the rhythmic transients in wild-type ICC-SMP. Furthermore, the motor pattern associated with ICC-SMP pacemaking, the so-called 'ripples' were normal in the W/W(v) colon. CONCLUSIONS & INFERENCES: c-Kit is not a reliable marker for quantifying ICC-SMP in the mouse colon. Ano1 staining revealed a normal network of ICC-SMP consistent with the presence of a normal 'ripples' motor pattern. We detected a class of Ano1 positive c-Kit negative cells that do not depend on Kit expression for maintenance, a feature shared with ICC progenitors.