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Micron. 2001 Feb;32(2):185-200.

Fibrillin-rich microfibrils of the extracellular matrix: ultrastructure and assembly.

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School of Biological Sciences, 2.205 Stopford Building, University of Manchester M13 9PT, Manchester, UK.


Fibrillin-rich microfibrils are a unique class of extensible connective tissue macromolecules. Their critical contribution to the establishment and maintenance of diverse extracellular matrices was underlined by the linkage of their principal structural component fibrillin to Marfan syndrome, a heritable connective tissue disorder with pleiotropic manifestations. Microscopy and preparative techniques have contributed substantially to the understanding of microfibril structure and function. The supramolecular organisation of microfibrillar assemblies in tissues has been examined by tissue sectioning and X-ray diffraction methods. Published findings are discussed and new information reported on the organisation of microfibrils in the ciliary zonular fibrils by environmental scanning electron microscopy. This review summarises microscopy and X-ray diffraction studies that are informing current understanding of the ultrastructure of fibrillin-rich microfibrils.

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