The collagens associated with 14.5-d rat visceral yolk sacs were localized and identified by a variety of procedures. Morphological examination showed that both the visceral epithelium and mesothelium rested upon thin basement membranes, whereas the majority of the extracellular matrix consisted of a stroma containing occasional cells and abundant banded fibrils. Immunohistochemistry at the electron microscope level showed that the basement membranes specifically cross-reacted with antibodies directed against mouse basement membrane components, whereas the stroma specifically cross-reacted with antibodies directed against rat type I collagen. Extractions of acellular visceral yolk sacs and subsequent analyses showed that type I collagen components were prevalent. Furthermore, in vitro biosynthetic studies showed only the presence of type I procollagen components (or their conversion products) and alpha-fetoprotein. These findings, taken together with our previous studies on the 14.5-d rat parietal yolk sac, provide us with protein markers for studying the origin of cells in rat parietovisceral yolk sac carcinomas.

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