Biogenesis of the apical endosome-lysosome complex during differentiation of absorptive epithelial cells in rat ileum

Jean Wilson, J. Andrew Whitney, Marian R. Neutra

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31 Scopus citations


Absorptive cells of the neonatal rat ileum have an elaborate apical endocytic complex consisting of tubular and vesicular endosomes, multivesicular bodies (MVB), and a giant lysosomal vacuole. This system develops rapidly over the last 3 days (20-22) of gestation. We followed the assembly of this complex by ultrastructural analysis and immunocytochemistry using antigenic markers for microvilli, endosomal tubules and lysosomal membranes. At 19 days gestation, low levels of lactase appeared on microvilli but specialized apical endosomal tubules and lysosomes were absent. At 20 days, expression of microvillar lactase increased and the endosomal marker entubin appeared, in parallel with the appearance of specialized apical endosomal tubules. The compartments of the apical endosomelysosome system were assembled sequentially after differentiation of the apical plasma membrane domains; first endosomal tubules and vesicles, followed by MVB, and ending with the assembly of the giant lysosome shortly after birth. During early stages of the assembly process, membrane components of the tubular endosomes and lysosomes appeared in the apical plasma membrane before being restricted to their respective intracellular compartments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1991



  • Development
  • Endosomes
  • Intestine
  • Lysosomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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