Laminins are extracellular matrix glycoproteins that are involved in various cellular functions, including adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation. In this study, we examine the expression patterns and the cellular origins of the laminin alpha2, alpha4, and alpha5 chains in the developing mouse intestine and in in vitro mouse/chick or chick/mouse interspecies hybrid intestines. In situ hybridization and Northern blot analysis revealed that mRNA levels for all three laminin alpha chains are highest in the fetal intestine undergoing intense morphogenetic movements. Laminin alpha4 mRNA and polypeptide are associated with mesenchyme-derived cell populations such as endothelium and smooth muscle. In contrast, laminin alpha2 and alpha5 chains participate in the structural organization of the subepithelial basement membrane and, in the mature intestine, show a complementary pattern of expression. All three laminin alpha chains occur in the smooth muscle basement membrane, with a differential expression of laminin alpha5 chain in the circular and longitudinal smooth muscle layers. The cellular origin of laminin alpha2 and alpha5 chains found in the subepithelial cell basement membrane was studied by immunocytochemical analysis of mouse/chick or chick/mouse interspecies hybrid intestines at various stages of development using mouse-specific antibodies. Laminin alpha2 was found to be deposited into the basement membrane exclusively by mesenchymal cells, while the laminin alpha5 chain was deposited by both epithelial and mesenchymal cells in an apparently developmentally regulated pattern. We conclude that (1) multiple laminin alpha chains are expressed in the intestine, implying specific roles for individual laminin isoforms during intestinal development, and (2) reciprocal epithelial/mesenchymal interactions are essential for the formation of a structured subepithelial basement membrane.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.