The appearance of extracellular matrix molecules and their receptors represent key events in the differentiation of cells of the kidney. Steady-state mRNA levels for a laminin receptor, the laminin B1, B2, and A chains, and the alpha 1-chain of collagen IV (alpha 1[IV]), were examined in mouse kidneys at 16 d gestation and birth, when cell differentiation is active, and 1-3 wk after birth when this activity has subsided. Northern analysis revealed that mRNA expression of laminin receptor precedes the alpha 1(IV) and laminin B chains whereas laminin A chain mRNA expression was very low. In situ hybridization reflected this pattern and revealed the cells responsible for expression. At 16 d gestation, laminin receptor mRNA was elevated in cells of newly forming glomeruli and proximal and distal tubules of the nephrogenic zone located in the kidney cortex. These cells also expressed mRNA for alpha 1(IV) and laminin chains. At birth, mRNA expression of receptor and all chains remained high in glomeruli but was reduced in proximal and distal tubules. At 1 wk after birth, expression was located in the medulla over collecting ducts and loops of Henle. Little expression was detectable by 3 wk. These results suggest that cellular expression of steady-state mRNA for laminin receptor, laminin, and collagen IV is temporally linked, with laminin receptor expression proceeding first and thereafter subsiding.

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