Gap junctions between mast cells and fibroblasts in the developing avian eye
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Mast cells are present in the eye of chick embryos from the 14th day onward, displaying metachromatic granules, mainly in the iris anterior surface and pectinate ligament. Ultrastructurally these cells show electron-dense granules and a few thin and short cytoplasmic projections in close contact with fibroblasts. Sometimes these contacts are extensive, with long fibroblast projections partially involving the mast cells. Gap junctions between mast cells and fibroblasts are observed only in the eyes of 16- and 20-day-old embryos. These intercellular specializations are represented by a close apposition of cytoplasmic membranes with an extension up to 300 nm. Gap junctions between mast cells and fibroblasts were not observed previously in vivo or in vitro, although in vitro studies have shown that a number of functionally critical interactions may occur between these cells. Our morphological findings suggest that, in vivo, fibroblasts interact with mast cells and may influence their maturation.