Rabbit lens epithelial cells display a similar "cobblestone" morphology and produce the same complement of sulphated macromolecules (also see Heathcote, J.G., and R.W. Orkin, 1984, J. Cell Biol., 99:852-860) whether grown on plastic or glass, dried films of gelatin or type IV collagen with laminin, or on gels of type I collagen. There was no evidence of basement membrane formation by these cells when they were grown on plastic, glass, or dried films. In contrast, cultures that had been grown on gels deposited a discrete basement membrane that followed the contours of the basal surfaces of the cells and in addition, they secreted amorphous basement membrane-like material that diffused into the interstices of the gel and associated with the collagen fibrils of the gel. A significant proportion (approximately 70%) of the heparan sulphate proteoglycan fraction that was secreted into the culture medium (fraction MI) when the cells were grown on plastic became associated with the cell-gel layer in the gel cultures. Further, when basement membrane was isolated by detergent extraction, greater than 90% of the 35S-labeled material present was in this heparan sulphate proteoglycan.

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