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J Struct Biol. 2011 Jun;174(3):536-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2011.03.015. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

Electron tomography reveals multiple self-association of chondroitin sulphate/dermatan sulphate proteoglycans in Chst5-null mouse corneas.

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  • 1Structural Biophysics Group, School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK. ParfittGJ1@cf.ac.uk


The spatial distribution of collagen fibrils in the corneal stroma is essential for corneal transparency and is primarily regulated by extrafibrillar proteoglycans, which are multi-functional polymers that interact with hybrid type I/V collagen fibrils. In order to understand more about proteoglycan organisation and collagen associations in the cornea, three-dimensional electron microscopy reconstructions of collagen-proteoglycan interactions in the anterior, mid and posterior stroma from a Chst5 knockout mouse, which lacks a keratan sulphate sulphotransferase, were obtained. Both longitudinal and transverse section show sinuous, oversized proteoglycans with near-periodic, orthogonal off-shoots. In many cases, these proteoglycans traverse over 400nm of interfibrillar space interconnecting over 10 collagen fibrils. The reconstructions suggest that multiple chondroitin sulphate/dermatan sulphate proteoglycans have aggregated laterally and, possibly, end-to-end, with orthogonal extensions protruding from the main electron-dense stained filament. We suggest possible mechanisms as to how sulphation differences may lead to this increase in aggregation of proteoglycans in the Chst5-null mouse corneal stroma and how this relates to proteoglycan packing in healthy corneas.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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