Double immunofluorescence staining experiments designed to examine the synthesis and deposition of collagen types I and IV in cultured explants of embryonic mouse lung revealed the presence of connective tissue-like fibers that were immunoreactive with anti-type IV collagen antibodies. This observation is contrary to the widely accepted belief that type IV collagen is found only in sheet-like arrangements beneath epithelia or as a sheath-like layer enveloping bundles of nerve or muscle cells. The extracellular matrix produced by cells that migrate from embryonic mouse lung rudiments in vitro was examined by double indirect immunofluorescence microscopy. Affinity-purified monospecific polyclonal antibodies were used to examine cells after growth on glass or native collagen substrata. The data show that embryonic mesenchymal cells can produce organized fibers of type IV collagen that are not contained within a basement membrane, and that embryonic epithelial cells deposit fibers and strands of type IV collagen beneath their basal surface when grown on glass; however, when grown on a rat tail collagen substratum the epithelial cells produce a fine meshwork. To our knowledge this work represents the first report that type IV collagen can be organized by cells into a fibrous extracellular matrix that is not a basement membrane.

This content is only available as a PDF.