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Cell Adhes Commun. 1993 May;1(1):33-53.

Variants of the alpha 6 beta 1 laminin receptor in early murine development: distribution, molecular cloning and chromosomal localization of the mouse integrin alpha 6 subunit.

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Dept of Anatomy, Medical Faculty, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Erratum in

  • Cell Adhes Commun 1993 Sep;1(2):following 190.


Laminin (A:B1:B2) is a major component of the first basement membrane to appear in the developing mouse embryo. Its effects on morphogenesis and differentiation are mediated by interaction with cell surface receptors that are members of the integrin family. We have studied the expression of the alpha 6 subunit of murine alpha 6 beta 1 and its ligand, laminin, in preimplantation mouse embryos, embryo outgrowths and in embryonic stem (ES) cells and embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells. The alpha 6 subunit is present in the oocyte and throughout preimplantation development. Laminin A chain appears later than alpha 6 and has a more restricted distribution until the late blastocyst stage. alpha 6 beta 1 is strongly expressed in ES and EC cells; the levels of mRNA expression are not altered by differentiation. Molecular cloning of cDNA for the murine integrin alpha 6 subunit from a mammary gland lambda gt11 library showed, as in man, an open reading frame encoding two variants of alpha 6, alpha 6A and alpha 6B. The identity of the alpha 6 amino acid sequence to that in man and chicken is 93% and 73%, respectively. The gene for murine alpha 6 was mapped to chromosome 2. While undifferentiated ES and EC cells express only alpha 6B, alpha 6A is co-expressed in ES cells after differentiation is induced by retinoic acid. alpha 6B is also the only variant expressed in blastocyst stage embryos, but when blastocysts have grown out in culture both alpha 6A and alpha 6B are expressed reflecting the results in the cell lines. We suggest that the deposition of laminin in the embryo is a receptor-mediated process and that the shift in the expression of the variants, as the inner cell mass forms its first differentiated progeny, reflects a change in functional properties.

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