Junctional complexes in the preimplantation rabbit embryo

The Anatomical Record
R A Hastings, A C Enders


The morphology and development of junctional complexes between blastomeres of the preimplantation rabbit embryo were investigated using several approaches. Electron microscopic examination of embryos stained en bloc with uranyl acetate, and the study of junction permeability using horseradish peroxidase and lanthanum nitrate provided information on structure, intermembrane spacing and permeability of the junctional complexes. In addition, the freeze fracture technique was used with day 5 and day 6 blastocysts, since the large size of these embryos facilitated use of this method. These experiments showed that although rudimentary junctions were present between blastomeres of the early cleavage stages, effective tight junctions were not present until the blastocyst stage. Electron microscopic examination of thin sections revealed apical foci of membrane approximation or "fusion" between trophoblast cells by day 4. Freeze fracturing revealed a lattice of interconnecting ridges (on the A face) and grooves (on the B face) in the apical region between trophoblast cells of the day 5 blastocyst. This lattice formed a continuous band along the apical margin of each cell, and therefore constituted a zonula occludens. The zonula occludens...Continue Reading


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