, Volume 282, Issue 3, pp 463-471

Basal lamina and other extracellular matrix produced by bovine granulosa cells in anchorage-independent culture

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Bovine granulosa cells from 3–7 mm follicles were cultured without anchorage in soft agar/methylcellulose solution for 14 days, with or without 50 ng/ml basic fibroblast growth factor. The granulosa cells divided to form colonies of cells. These were analysed by light and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry and Western immunoblotting. In approximately 20% of the colonies extracellular matrix was clearly visible at the light-microscope level. Ultrastructurally the matrix resembled a basal lamina 30–100 nm thick and was composed of tangled fibres or cords. Unidentified spherical structures of less than 50 nm diameter were sometimes present and attached to this basal lamina. The basal lamina of follicles had similar features, except that the basal lamina produced in vitro was a large aggregate of many convoluted layers. The cells produced collagen type IV and the cellular form of fibronectin. Intercellular areas not associated with basal lamina were identified. Ruthenium red staining revealed these areas to be rich in proteoglycan granules. Free granules were clustered near the cell surface, and the lumina of these areas were rich in fibres decorated with ruthenium red. This material did not resemble follicular fluid of antral follicles. Thus, granulosa cells in anchorage-independent cultures have a follicular cell morphology and secrete two distinct extracellular matrices, one similar to the follicular basal lamina.

This study was funded by the Flinders Medical Centre Research Foundation, Flinders University, and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia