Properties of rat tracheal epithelial cells separated based on expression of cell surface alpha-galactosyl end groups
We used Griffonia (bandeiraea) simplicifolia I (GS I) lectin and flow cytometry to isolate subsets of rat tracheal epithelial cells based on the presence or absence of cell surface alpha-galactosyl end groups. These fractions were designated GS I-positive and -negative, respectively. Ninety-eight percent of the cells in the GS I-positive fraction expressed cell surface alpha-galactosyl end groups; 95% had immunocytochemically detectable keratin 14-related protein (a basal cell marker) and 98%
... l marker) and 98% lacked alcian blue-periodic acid-Schiff (AB-PAS)-stained cytoplasmic granules. More than 90% of the GS I-positive cells had a high nuclear-to-cytoplasm ratio, had tonofilaments, and lacked organelles characteristic of other differentiated cell types; they were thus classified as basal cells. In bioassays, the GS I-positive fraction had a colony-forming efficiency greater than or equal to that of native tracheal cell suspensions, and the cells were able to repopulate denuded tracheal grafts with ciliated, secretory, and basal cells. More than 99% of the cells in the GS I-negative fraction lacked cell surface alpha-galactosyl end groups, 98% did not stain for keratin 14-related protein, 54% had significant numbers of AB-PAS-stained cytoplasmic granules, and 16% were identified as ciliated cells. The GS I-negative fraction had a lower colony-forming efficiency than the GS I-positive fraction but, it too, was able to repopulate denuded tracheal grafts with a complete mucociliary epithelium. These results show that both GS I-positive and -negative cells had the potential to proliferate and differentiate into the major tracheal cell types.