A new connective tissue protein, which we call fibrillin, has been isolated from the medium of human fibroblast cell cultures. Electrophoresis of the disulfide bond-reduced protein gave a single band with an estimated molecular mass of 350,000 D. This 350-kD protein appeared to possess intrachain disulfide bonds. It could be stained with periodic acid-Schiff reagent, and after metabolic labeling, it contained [3H]glucosamine. It could not be labeled with [35S]sulfate. It was resistant to digestion by bacterial collagenase. Using mAbs specific for fibrillin, we demonstrated its widespread distribution in the connective tissue matrices of skin, lung, kidney, vasculature, cartilage, tendon, muscle, cornea, and ciliary zonule. Electron microscopic immunolocalization with colloidal gold conjugates specified its location to a class of extracellular structural elements described as microfibrils. These microfibrils possessed a characteristic appearance and averaged 10 nm in diameter. Microfibrils around the amorphous cores of the elastic fiber system as well as bundles of microfibrils without elastin cores were labeled equally well with antibody. Immunolocalization suggested that fibrillin is arrayed periodically along the individual microfibril and that individual microfibrils may be aligned within bundles. The periodicity of the epitope appeared to match the interstitial collagen band periodicity. In contrast, type VI collagen, which has been proposed as a possible microfibrillar component, was immunolocalized with a specific mAb to small diameter microfilaments that interweave among the large, banded collagen fibers; it was not associated with the system of microfibrils identified by the presence of fibrillin.

This content is only available as a PDF.