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Placenta. 1998 Jan;19(1):95-104.

Microfibrillar composition of umbilical cord matrix: characterization of fibrillin, collagen VI and intact collagen V.

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Institut de Biologie et de Chimie des Protéines, UPR 412-CNRS, Lyon, France.


Ultrastructural studies made on human umbilical cord revealed that the striated collagen fibrils of the Wharton's jelly matrix are mixed with many microfibrillar structures. Microfibrils were found with a tubular cross-section of 10-12 nm diameter and were organized as beaded filaments characteristic of fibrillin-rich microfibrils. Beads had an average diameter of 25 nm and were spaced at about 50-80 nm. This ultrastructural observation was confirmed by indirect immunofluorescent staining of the jelly matrix using monoclonal antibody to fibrillin. Another constituent of the microfibrillar network was present as typical 100-nm periodic filaments of type VI collagen. Indirect immunofluorescent staining using antibodies to collagen VI showed for the first time that this collagen appeared to be distributed largely in the jelly matrix. In addition, other microfibrils with no specific banding pattern were observed. These microfibrils may constitute an organization of type V collagen different from the one which is generally assembled in heterotypic fibrils with collagen I. Among the latter heterotypic fibrils, type V collagen was studied using an anti-peptide antibody to the most N-terminal non-collagenous region of its alpha 2(V) chain. This antibody recognized a filamentous mesh decorating the bundles of collagen fibrils by immunofluorescent staining. This indicates that at least this part of alpha 2(V) chain may be accessible to the antibody at the surface of the fibrils.

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