Thin and ultrathin cryosections of mouse cornea were labeled with affinity-purified antibodies directed against either laminin, its central segments (domain 1), the end of its long arm (domain 3), the end of one of its short arms (domain 4), nidogen, or low density heparan sulfate proteoglycan. All basement membrane proteins are detected by indirect immunofluorescence exclusively in the epithelial basement membrane, in Descemet's membrane, and in small amorphous plaques located in the stroma. Immunoelectron microscopy using the protein A-gold technique demonstrated laminin domain 1 and nidogen in a narrow segment of the lamina densa at the junction to the lamina lucida within the epithelial basement membrane. Domain 3 shows three preferred locations at both the cellular and stromal boundaries of the epithelial basement membrane and in its center. Domain 4 is located predominantly in the lamina lucida and the adjacent half of the lamina densa. The low density heparan sulfate proteoglycan is found all across the basement membrane showing a similar uniform distribution as with antibodies against the whole laminin molecule. In Descemet's membrane an even distribution was found with all these antibodies. It is concluded that within the epithelial basement membrane the center of the laminin molecule is located near the lamina densa/lamina lucida junction and that its long arm favors three major orientations. One is close to the cell surface indicating binding to a cell receptor, while the other two are directed to internal matrix structures. The apparent codistribution of laminin domain 1 and nidogen agrees with biochemical evidence that nidogen binds to this domain.

This content is only available as a PDF.