Obstetrics & Gynaecology Publications

Differentiation of an epithelium: factors affecting the polarized distribution of Na+,K(+)-ATPase in mouse trophectoderm.

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Developmental biology





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Na+,K(+)-ATPase is a marker of the basolateral plasma membrane domain of polarized epithelial cells, including the mural trophectoderm of the mammalian blastocyst (Watson and Kidder (1988). Dev. Biol. 126, 80-90). We have used this marker to explore the factors governing the establishment and maintenance of apical/basolateral polarity during differentiation of trophectoderm. A polyclonal antiserum (anti-GP80) against human cell-CAM 120/80, a homolog of the mouse cell-cell adhesion protein, uvomorulin, was used to prevent cell flattening (compaction) and formation of the epithelial junctional complex. The majority of treated embryos failed to develop a blastocoel; instead their blastomeres developed fluid-filled cavities that expanded while untreated control embryos were cavitating. Immunocytochemistry revealed that the catalytic subunit of Na+,K(+)-ATPase was contained within the membranes lining these cavities, as well as within numerous punctate foci in the cytoplasm. The down-regulation of expression of the enzyme that normally occurs in the ICM and polar trophectoderm did not take place, since the immunoreactivity remained equally strong in all blastomeres. The enzyme could not be detected in plasma membranes. We conclude that uvomorulin-mediated cell adhesion is involved in spatially restricting the expression of the catalytic subunit and is a prerequisite for the insertion of enzyme-laden vesicles into plasma membranes, but not for expression of the catalytic subunit gene. When fully developed blastocysts were treated with cytochalasins to disrupt the epithelial junctional complex, the catalytic subunit shifted from the basolateral to the apical plasma membrane. This finding suggests a primary role for the apical plasma membrane in the process of polarization, and implies that tight junctions are a manifestation of polarity that serve to maintain the separation between apical and basolateral markers.

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