To investigate potential heterogeneity and developmental changes in basement membranes during embryogenesis, we performed immunohistochemical analyses on lens capsules in chicken embryos of different ages using domain-specific monoclonal antibodies against type IV collagen. We found that the capsule of the newly formed lens stained uniformly with antibodies against this component of basement membranes, but with increasing age and differentiation of the lens cells the anterior lens capsule remained brightly fluorescent while staining of the posterior capsule became relatively much less intense. This antero-posterior gradient of anti-type IV collagen antibody reactivity demonstrated that developmentally-regulated changes can occur within a single, continuous basement membrane.

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