Immunocytochemical localization of thrombospondin (TSP), a trimeric glycoprotein constituent of extracellular matrices, produced striking regional and temporal patterns of distribution in the developing mouse embryo. TSP was present in many basement membranes, surrounded epithelial cells, and was associated with peripheral nerve outgrowth. During organogenesis, TSP was also found on the surface of myoblasts and chondroblasts, and TSP was differentially deposited in cortical layers. With differentiation of chondrocytes and myotubes immunoreactivity was decreased, and differential cortical staining was lost. Presence of TSP was associated with morphogenetic processes of proliferation, migration, and intercellular adhesion.

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