The localization of lysyl oxidase was examined in calf and rat aortic connective tissue at the ultrastructural level using polyclonal chicken anti-lysyl oxidase and gold conjugated rabbit anti-chicken immunoglobulin G to identify immunoreactive sites. Electron microscopy of calf aortic specimens revealed discrete gold deposits at the interface between extracellular bundles of amorphous elastin and the microfibrils circumferentially surrounding these bundles. The antibody did not react with microfibrils which were distant from the interface with elastin. There was negligible deposition of gold within the bundles of amorphous elastin and those few deposits seen at these sites appeared to be associated with strands of microfibrils. Lysyl oxidase was similarly localized in newborn rat aorta at the interface between microfibrils and nascent elastin fibers. Gold deposits were not seen in association with extracellular collagen fibers even after collagen-associated proteoglycans had been degraded by chondroitinase ABC. However, the antibody did recognize collagen-bound lysyl oxidase in collagen fibers prepared from purified collagen to which the enzyme had been added in vitro. No reaction product was seen if the anti-lysyl oxidase was preadsorbed with purified lysyl oxidase illustrating the specificity of the antibody probe. The present results are consistent with a model of elastogenesis predicting the radial growth of the elastin fiber by the deposition and crosslinking of tropoelastin units at the fiber-microfibril interface.

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