The fine distribution of the extracellular matrix glycoprotein emilin (previously known as glycoprotein gp115) (Bressan, G. M., I. Castellani, A. Colombatti, and D. Volpin. 1983. J. Biol. Chem. 258: 13262-13267) has been studied at the ultrastructural level with specific antibodies. In newborn chick aorta the protein was exclusively found within elastic fibers. In both post- and pre-embedding immunolabeling emilin was mainly associated with regions where elastin and microfibrils are in close contact, such as the periphery of the fibers. This localization of emilin in aorta has been confirmed by quantitative evaluation of the distribution of gold particles within elastic fibers. In other tissues, besides being associated with typical elastic fibers, staining for emilin was found in structures lacking amorphous elastin, but where the presence of tropoelastin has been demonstrated by immunoelectron microscopy. This was particularly evident in the oxitalan fibers of the corneal stroma, in the Descemet's membrane, and in the ciliary zonule. Analysis of embryonic aorta revealed the presence of emilin at early stages of elastogenesis, before the appearance of amorphous elastin. Immunofluorescence studies have shown that emilin produced by chick embryo aorta cells in culture is strictly associated with elastin and that the process of elastin deposition is severely altered by the presence of antiemilin antibodies in the culture medium. The name of the protein was derived from its localization at sites where elastin and microfibrils are in proximity (emilin, elastin microfibril interface located protein).

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