The membrane specializations of the fresh unfixed kidney cortex of adult and neonatal ICR mice were examined by using rapid freezing replica methods. In proximal tubular cells, numerous apical intracellular tubules exhibited helical patterns on the E face with a pitch of about 12 nm. This regular pattern was often continuous with similar striped indentations on the edge of the vacuoles connecting with the tubules. On the luminal surface (ES) of these vacuoles, membrane surface particles were arranged regularly in striped patterns with a center‐to‐center spacing of about 12 nm. We could not identify differentiations on the PF or PS of the same membrane systems. Another membrane specialization was a plaque or patch of clear pits in tilted lattice alignments on the P face of the large vacuoles with a center‐to‐center spacing of about 20 nm. This type of specialization was often observed in the neonatal mice proximal tubular cells. These membrane specializations may indicate the active membrane functions in the proximal tubules and suggest the functional continuity and structural relationship of these apical endocytic membrane systems. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
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