Differentiation of anchoring junctions in tracheal basal cells in the growing rat.

M. J. Evans, R. A. Cox, A. S. Burke, P. C. Moller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A function of airway basal cells is to attach ciliated and nonciliated columnar cells to the basal lamina. The significance of the basal cell in attachment is related to the height of the columnar epithelium. In taller epithelia, basal cells are more numerous and differentiated with respect to anchoring junctional adhesion mechanisms (desmosomes, hemidesmosomes, and the cytoskeleton) than in shorter epithelia. In this study, we determined if basal cell anchoring junctional adhesion mechanisms differentiated during growth of the airway. Tracheas from five 3-day-old, five 30-day-old, and five 90-day-old rats were prepared for electron microscopy and morphometrically studied by standard techniques. The circumference of the trachea increased from 2.5 +/- 0.2 to 7.5 +/- 0.4 mm during growth. The height of the columnar cell increased from 13.4 +/- 1.5 to 24.6 +/- 3.9 microns, and the number of basal cells per millimeter increased from 3.2 +/- 0.7 to 9.6 +/- 1.8 during growth. The number of desmosomes per basal cell profile increased significantly from 1.5 +/- 0.1 to 2.1 +/- 0.1, as did keratin filament volume density from 0.046 +/- 0.05 to 0.098 +/- 0.032. The amount of hemidesmosome attachment per basal cell did not increase significantly during growth of the airway. These data demonstrate that as tracheas grow in circumference, the columnar cells increase in height, basal cells increase in number, and anchoring junctional adhesion mechanisms differentiate in the basal cells. These changes are closely related to the height of the epithelium and result in maintaining a constant amount of attachment between the columnar epithelium and the basal lamina as the epithelium increases in height.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-157
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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