A parietal yolk sac carcinoma of the mouse that secretes large quantities of basement membrane-like material has been used to study the formation of basement membranes. Suitably characterized fluorescein-labeled antibodies against this material stained basement membranes of epithelial structures and vessels, as well as reticulin. When absorbed with reticulin and vascular basement membranes of the spleen until these structures no longer fluoresced, the antibody still stained the basement membrane-like material of the tumor, its normal embryonic counterpart (Reichert's membrane), and the basement membranes at the bases of epithelial cells.
The observation made previously that parietal yolk sac cells secreted, in the absence of connective tissue and reticulin, the basement membrane (Reichert's membrane) upon which they rested has been confirmed through the localization of ferritin-labeled antibody to the endoplasmic reticulin of the secreting cells.
Since a basement membrane proven to be an epithelial secretion is antigenically similar to basement membranes at the bases of all epithelial cells studied but antigenically different from connective tissue elements, it is postulated that the basement membranes at the bases of epithelial cells in general are an epithelial secretion, and are not a condensation of ground substance as is commonly believed.