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J Cell Sci. 1976 Dec;22(3):585-96.

A decay of gap junctions in association with cell differentiation of neural retina in chick embryonic development.


Ultrastructural studies of thin-sectioned and freeze-cleaved materials were performed on developing retinal tissues of 3- to 9-day-old chick embryos to clarify the junctional structures between neural retinal cells and between neural retinal cells and cells of the pigmented epithelium. Frequency, size and position of gap junctions in developing neural retina are different at each stage of development. In 3-day-old embryos, some cells adhere to each other by gap junctions immediately below the outer limiting membrane of neural retinae. The size and number of gap junctions increase remarkably during 5-6 days of incubation. In this period of development, well developed gap junctions consisting of subcompartments of intramembrane particles are found between cell surfaces at both the outer limiting membrane region and the deeper portion of the neural retina. Gap junctions disappear thereafter, and at 7-5 days of incubation, small gap junctions are predominant between cell surfaces at the outer limiting membrane region, while the frequency of gap junctions in the deeper portion is very low. At 9 days of incubation, gap junctions are rarely found. Typical gap junctions are always found between neural retinal cells and those of the pigmented epithelium in embryos up to 7-5 days of incubation. Tight junctions are not found in the neural retina or between neural retina and pigmented epithelium throughout the stages examined.

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