A transplantable acinar cell tumor of the rat pancreas has been examined by light and electron microscopy. The tumor cells, though highly cytodifferentiated and characterized by the presence of abundant rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum, elements of the Golgi complex, and zymogen granules, undergo mitosis in a manner similar to that seen in the developing pancreas. Cells in the parenchyma of the tumor grow as disarrayed cords and sheets, are randomly oriented with respect to each other, and do not form acinar structures. However, when in contact with the adventitial surface of blood vessels, the tumor cells palisade and form a polarized layer of cells with their zymogen granule-rich poles oriented away from the vessel lumen. Only in this area of the tumor is a basal lamina present that underlies the basal plasmalemma of the reoriented epithelial cells. Freeze-fracture electron microscopy of tumor cells in the parenchyma shows extensive disruption of tight junctions whose sealing strands are randomly distributed over the entire plasmalemma. Gap junctions are infrequent and when present are often enclosed by tight-junctional strands. Intramembrane particles are randomly distributed over the cell surface. Both the absence of basal lamina and derangement of the junctional complexes may account in part for the altered morphogenesis of this tumor.

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