Specific antibodies to laminin, type IV collagen, basement-membrane proteoglycan, and fibronectin have been used in immunofluorescence microscopy to study the development of basement membranes of the embryonic kidney. Kidney tubules are known to form from the nephrogenic mesenchyme as a result of an inductive tissue interaction. This involves a change in the composition of the extracellular matrix. The undifferentiated mesenchyme expresses in the composition of the extracellular matrix. The undifferentiated mesenchyme expresses fibronectin but no detectable laminin, type IV collagen, or basement-membrane proteoglycan. During the inductive interaction, basement-membrane specific components (laminin, type IV collagen, basement membrane proteoglycan) become detectable in the induced area, whereas fibronectin is lost. While the differentiation to epithelial cells of the kidney requires an inductive interaction, the development of the vasculature seems to involve an ingrowth of cells which throughout development deposits basement-membrane specific components, as well as fibronectin. These cells form the endothelium and possibly also the mesangium of the glomerulus, and contribute to the formation of the glomerular basement membrane. An analysis of differentiation of the kidney mesenchyme in vitro in the absence of circulation supports these conclusions. Because a continuity with vasculature is required for glomerular endothelial cell differentiation, it is possible that these cells are derived from outside vasculature.

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