Basement membrane stimulates the polarized distribution of integrins but not the Na,K-ATPase in the retinal pigment epithelium

Cell Regul. 1991 Nov;2(11):939-49. doi: 10.1091/mbc.2.11.939.


The basement membrane stimulates the differentiation and polarity of simple transporting epithelia. We demonstrated for the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of chicken embryos that polarity develops gradually. Although the RPE and an immature basement membrane are established on embryonic day 4 (E4), the distribution of the Na,K-ATPase and a family of basement membrane receptors containing the beta 1 subunit of integrin is nonpolarized. The percentage of polarized cells increases gradually until cells in all regions of the epithelium are polarized on E11. During this time, the basement membrane increases in size and complexity to form Bruch's membrane. To study the ability of the basement membrane to stimulate the polarized distribution of the beta 1 integrins or the Na,K-ATPase, RPE was harvested from E7, E9, or E14 embryos and cultured on Bruch's membrane isolated (in association with the choroid) from E14 embryos. As a control, the RPE was plated on the side of the choroid lacking a Bruch's membrane. The distribution of the beta 1 integrins and the Na,K-ATPase was determined by indirect immunofluorescence. Bruch's membrane stimulated the polarized distribution of the beta 1 integrins regardless of the developmental age of the RPE even though E7 RPE is nonpolarized in vivo. To examine the role of individual matrix components, RPE was plated on matrix-coated filters. The polarized distribution of the beta 1 integrins was stimulated by laminin, collagen IV, and Matrigel but not by fibronectin. Interestingly, laminin and collagen IV are present in the basement membrane on E4 when RPE is not polarized in vivo. Under no circumstances was the distribution of the Na,K-ATPase polarized. These data indicate that the basement membrane influences the distribution of a subset of plasma membrane proteins but that other factors are required for full polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basement Membrane / physiology*
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Integrins / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / ultrastructure*
  • Retina / ultrastructure*
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / metabolism*


  • Integrins
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase