Mesodermal tissue from the chick embryo at various stages of early differentiation was cultured in hydrated gels of type I collagen in the presence and absence of transferrin. Primary mesoderm explants from primitive-streak-stage embryos responded to the presence of avian transferrin by significantly improved outgrowth which appeared to be related to the ability of the cells to attach to, and migrate in, the collagen. No evidence was obtained which suggested that this observation was dependent on increased cell proliferation. This outgrowth enhancement was not duplicated by transferrin of human origin. The avian transferrin did not produce this effect on cells cultured on plastic substrata, suggesting that the species-specific effect involves modulation by the extracellular matrix. Mesoderm explants from somite stages of development showed no increase in outgrowth in the presence of either avian or human transferrin as judged by counting the number of outwandering cells. Ultrastructural immunocytochemistry indicated surface binding of transferrin by cells in the gels, and the presence of endogenous transferrin on the surfaces of mesoderm cells in situ and in their extracellular environment. It is suggested that by binding to cell surface receptors, transferrin may be able to influence the strength of cellular adhesion to collagen and hence the capacity for cell locomotion.

This content is only available via PDF.