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J Histochem Cytochem. 2005 Feb;53(2):165-76.

Proteoglycan-collagen XV in human tissues is seen linking banded collagen fibers subjacent to the basement membrane.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School-UMDNJ, New Burnswick, New Jersey, USA.


Type XV is a large collagen-proteoglycan found in all human tissues examined. By light microscopy it was localized to most epithelial and all nerve, muscle, fat and endothelial basement membrane zones except for the glomerular capillaries or hepatic/splenic sinusoids. This widespread distribution suggested that type XV may be a discrete structural component that acts to adhere basement membrane to the underlying connective tissue. To address these issues, immunogold ultrastructural analysis of type XV collagen in human kidney, placenta, and colon was conducted. Surprisingly, type XV was found almost exclusively associated with the fibrillar collagen network in very close proximity to the basement membrane. Type XV exhibited a focal appearance directly on the surface of, or extending from, the fibers in a linear or clustered array. The most common single arrangement was a bridge of type XV gold particles linking thick-banded fibers. The function of type XV in this restricted microenvironment is expected to have an intrinsic dependence upon its modification with glycosaminoglycan chains. Present biochemical characterization showed that the type XV core protein in vivo carries chains of chondroitin/dermatan sulfate alone, or chondroitin/dermatan sulfate together with heparan sulfate in a differential ratio. Thus, type XV collagen may serve as a structural organizer to maintain a porous meshwork subjacent to the basement membrane, and in this domain may play a key role in signal transduction pathways.

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