A comparative analysis of the fine structure of the microvilli on jejunal and colonic epithelial cells of the mouse intestine has been made. The microvilli in these two locations demonstrate a remarkably similar fine structure with respect to the thickness of the plasma membrane, the extent of the filament-free zone, and the characteristics of the microfilaments situated within the microvillous core. Some of the core microfilaments appear to continue across the plasma membrane limiting the tip of the microvillus. The main difference between the microvilli of small intestine and colon is in the extent and organization of the surface coat. In the small intestine, in addition to the commonly observed thin surface "fuzz," occasional areas of the jejunal villus show a more conspicuous surface coat covering the tips of the microvilli. Evidence has been put forward which indicates that the surface coat is an integral part of the epithelial cells. In contrast to the jejunal epithelium, the colonic epithelium is endowed with a thicker surface coat. Variations in the organization of the surface coat at different levels of the colonic crypts have also been noted. The functional significance of these variations in the surface coat is discussed.

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