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Structural and biochemical differentiation of the guinea-pig colon during foetal development

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We have studied some aspects of the morphological and biochemical differentiation of the foetal guinea-pig colonic epithelium. At day 40 the epithelium was organised in ridges and appeared pseudo-stratified. Folding of the epithelium, followed by villus formation, occurred between days 45 and 55, and by day 50 mucus-secreting goblet cells appeared at the bases of the colonic villi. By day 55 most epithelial cells, including goblet cells, possessed numerous microvilli which, by day 65, had become organised into well developed brush-borders. Between day 55 and term (day 65–68) mucosal depth increased markedly and the colon attained its final glandular morphology.

Biochemical studies showed the specific activities of the microvillar hydrolases to be much lower in the washed colon than in either foetal meconium or small intestine at all times during development. Furthermore, a membrane fraction highly enriched in microvillus hydrolase activities was prepared from foetal colonic meconium using techniques originally devised to isolate the foetal small intestinal microvillus membrane. This meconial subfraction was almost identical in polypeptide composition to the highly-purified foetal small intestinal microvillus membrane. Identification of the colonic microvillus membrane was hampered by the absence of reliable membrane markers. Nevertheless, a fraction 14-fold enriched in aminopeptidase activity was prepared from day 40 foetal colon and its polypeptide composition compared by SDS-PAGE to that of the small intestinal microvillus membrane at the same age.

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Correspondence to Dr. David Bailey.

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Smith, T., Christianson, K., Moss, R. et al. Structural and biochemical differentiation of the guinea-pig colon during foetal development. Cell Tissue Res. 242, 197–209 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00225577

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Key words

  • Foetal colon
  • Guinea-pig
  • Meconium
  • Microvillus membrane