Rat parietal yolk sacs (PYS) at gestational ages 7.5, 9.5, 11.5, 13.5, 14.5, and 16.5 d were reacted with antibodies against laminin or plasma fibronectin. At all times studied, laminin consistently gave a positive reaction with Reichert's membrane and with the cytoplasm of PYS cells. In contrast, fibronectin gave a negative reaction with Reichert's membrane at day 7.5, was weakly positive at day 9.5, and from then on was increasingly positive with maximum reactivity at 14.5 d. By electron microscopic immunohistochemistry, antilaminin reacted strongly with 14.5-d Reichert's membrane and with the contents of the rough endoplasmic reticulum RER cisternae of the PYS cells. Antifibronectin had some spotty reactivity with Reichert's membrane, but the cytoplasm of the PYS cells was negative. The contents of the vitelline vessels and the interface between trophoblast and Reichert's membrane were strongly positive. Metabolic labeling of PYS cells in organ culture clearly demonstrated the presence of laminin, type IV procollagen, and entactin both in the medium and in tissues, but fibronectin was absent. No component in the medium bound to gelatin-Sepharose columns. These studies demonstrate that PYS cells, which actively synthesize and secrete basement membrane components, do not synthesize any detectable fibronectin. Furthermore, the anti-fibronectin staining pattern in the vitelline vessels and trophoblast-Reichert's membrane interface strongly suggests that the fibronectin present in Reichert's membrane is derived from the maternal circulation and is merely "trapped" in the membrane.

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