The embryonic corneal epithelium synthesizes both collagen and chondroitin sulfate and excretes them across the basement membrane into the subepithelial space where they assemble into a spiraling orthogonal matrix of fibrils. The assembly of collagen into fibrils is first apparent at the outer face of the basement membrane in a region of ordered chondroitin sulfate molecules. Hyaluronate, another morphogenetically important corneal macromolecule, is produced at these early stages only by the inner endothelium. These correlated biosynthetic and ultrastructural data demonstrate discrete macromolecular products of the two corneal epithelia with differing morphogenetic properties and functions.

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