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Matrix Biol. 1996 Dec;15(6):397-413.

Expression of laminin alpha 1, alpha 5 and beta 2 chains during embryogenesis of the kidney and vasculature.

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Department of Animal Physiology, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Laminins, found predominantly in basement membranes, are large glycoproteins consisting of different subsets of alpha, beta and gamma chain subunits. To resolve conflicting data in the literature concerning coexpression of alpha 1 and beta 2 chains, expression of alpha 1 chain was studied with two different antisera against the E3 fragment of laminin alpha 1 chain. Expression of the alpha 1 chain was seen in several types of epithelial basement membranes throughout development, but its expression in rat glomerular basement membranes and some other types of epithelial basement membranes occurred only during early stages of development. By contrast, beta 2 chains were detected by immunofluorescence only during advanced stages of glomerulogenesis and vascular development. By Northern and Western blots, beta 2 chains were detected somewhat earlier, but in situ hybridization revealed that beta 2 chain was also confined to vasculature during the earlier stages. It thus seems that, in the tissues studied here, the expression of alpha 1 and beta 2 chains was mutually exclusive. To explore whether the newly described alpha 5 chain is expressed in locations lacking alpha 1 chain, expression of alpha 5 chain was studied by Northern blots and in situ hybridization. The alpha 5 chain was not uniformly expressed in all embryonic epithelial cell types but was present mainly in epithelial sheets which produce very little alpha 1 chain. There also appeared to be a developmental trend, with alpha 1 chain appearing early and alpha 5 later, in maturing epithelial sheets. The alpha 5 chain could be a major alpha chain of the adult glomerular basement membrane.

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