close Icon

The rat visceral yolk sac internalizes maternal transferrin and secretes hydrolyzed products towards the fetus.

Richardson SJ, Southwell BR, Jaworowski A

  • Journal Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part B, Biochemistry & molecular biology

  • Published 10 Oct 2000

  • Volume 125

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 29-36

  • DOI 10.1016/s0305-0491(99)00150-9


The uptake of transferrin by the rat visceral yolk sac membranes, and the fate of this protein, were measured in a two-chambered system which allowed access to both surfaces of these membranes, i.e. that facing the maternal compartment and that facing the fetal compartment. 125I-labeled transferrin was internalized by the maternal surface of the visceral yolk sac but not by the fetal surface. Following internalization, this transferrin was degraded and the amino acids were secreted exclusively towards the fetal compartment. Transcytosis of intact transferrin was not detected in either direction. These results suggest that transport across the rat visceral yolk sac bound to maternally derived transferrin is not a major mechanism of iron transport in vivo. These results support a role for the visceral yolk sac in fetal metabolism, or supplying the fetus with amino acids derived from degradation of specific maternal plasma proteins, in this case, transferrin.