A heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) synthesized by murine parietal yolk sac (PYS-2) cells has been characterized and purified from culture supernatants. A monospecific polyclonal antiserum was raised against it which showed activity against the HSPG core protein and basement membrane specificity in immunohistochemical studies on frozen tissue sections from many rat organs. However, there was no reactivity with some basement membranes, notably those of several smooth muscle types and cardiac muscle. In addition, it was found that pancreatic acinar basement membranes also lacked the HSPG type recognized by this antiserum. Those basement membranes that lacked the HSPG strongly stained with antisera against laminin and type IV collagen. The striking distribution pattern is possibly indicative of multiple species of basement membrane HSPGs of which one type is recognized by this antiserum. Further evidence for multiple HSPGs was derived from the finding that skeletal neuromuscular junction and liver epithelia also did not contain this type of HSPG, though previous reports have indicated the presence of HSPGs at these sites. The PYS-2 HSPG was shown to be antigenically related to the large, low buoyant density HSPG from the murine Engelbreth-Holm swarm tumor. It was, however, confirmed that only a single population of antibodies was present in the serum. Despite the presence of similar epitopes on these two proteoglycans of different hydrodynamic properties, it was apparent that the PYS-2 HSPG represents a basement membrane proteoglycan of distinct properties reflected in its restricted distribution in vivo.

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