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Abstract

The present study utilizes the scanning electron microscope (SEM) to reveal the surface morphology of proximal tubular cells and the parietal cells of Bowman's capsule of the adult rabbit nephron. To facilitate the examination of the basal surface of these cells, proximal tubules were dissected free and treated with collagenase to remove the basememt membrane. Other blocks of tissue were cryofractured to expose the lateral cell surfaces of the proximal tubules. Our investigation has shown that the lateral and basal surfaces of both the convoluted and straight segments of the proximal tubule have numerous processes. However, the arrangement and degree of branching is distinctly different in the two segments. The convoluted segment has large lateral ridges which form at the base of the microvilli and fan out to divide into lateral-basal processes. Many of the lateral-basal processes reach the basement membrane intact, interdigitating with complementary processes from adjacent cells. However, some of the lateral-basal processes branch into short, knobby projections (basal villi) which may also reach the basement membrane. Patches of basal villi are interspersed between broad regions of interdigitating lateralbasal processes. Therefore, in the convoluted segment, the lateral-basal processes form the major part of the basal cell surface. In tubular cells of the pars recta, unlike convoluted tubular cells, the majority of the ridges remain unbranched and pass directly to the basal surface where they divide into elaborate basal villi. Thus the basal surface of the pars recta cells is highly complex, appearing leaf-like, being a composite of numerous basal villi with a few lateral ridges.

The basal surface of some parietal cells of Bowman's capsule have parallel ridges, which results in patches of striations.