The binding of 20 fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled lectins to various portions of the pregnant and non-pregnant murine oviduct and uterus was studied by fluorescence microscopy. Five lectins (from Ricinus communis (RCA-I), Maclura pomifera (MPA), Triticum vulgare (wheat germ-WGA), Bauhinia purpurea (BPA), and Ulex europeus (UEA-I)) reacted differentially with the epithelium of pregnant as compared with the non-pregnant uterus. The binding of RCA-I, MPA and WGA delineated pregnancy-related changes in the distal oviduct and colliculus tubaris. WGA recognized also pregnancy related changes in the proximal oviduct. The reactivity of the remaining 15 lectins did not distinguish the pregnant and non-pregnant oviduct and uterus, although some of them served to identify specific components of the mouse genital tract. Thus, Soybean lectin (SBA) reacted almost exclusively with the colliculus tubaris. UEA-I alone reacted exclusively with the epithelium of the non-pregnant uterus. RCA-II reacted preferentially with the epithelium of the oviduct and uterus as compared with its weak reactivity with the stroma. Two lectins (from Pisum sativum and Lens culinaris) reacted selectively with stromal cells of the uterus and oviduct. Present data indicate that the differential binding properties of these FITC-labeled lectins can be exploited to identify certain components of the mouse oviduct and uterus and to indicate changes in the cell surface and/or cytoplasm in these structures during pregnancy.
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