Fibrillin-containing microfibrils: structure and function in health and disease.
ABSTRACT Fibrillin-containing microfibrils are a unique class of connective tissue macromolecules whose critical contribution to the establishment and maintenance of diverse extracellular matrices was underlined by the recent linkage of their principal structural component fibrillin to Marfan syndrome, a heritable disorder with pleiotrophic connective tissue manifestations. The complexity of the structure: function relationships of these macromolecules was highlighted by the recent elucidation of the primary structure of fibrillin and characterisation of fibrillin mutations in Marfan patients. This review examines current understanding of the expression and assembly of fibrillin and describes new approaches which are now being applied to elucidate the many outstanding structural, organisational and functional aspects of the fibrillin-containing microfibrils.
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ABSTRACT: Microfibrils are ubiquitous fibrillin-rich polymers that are thought to provide long-range elasticity to extracellular matrices, including the zonular filaments of mammalian eyes. X-ray diffraction of hydrated bovine zonular filaments demonstrated meridional diffraction peaks indexing on a fundamental axial periodicity (D) of approximately 56 nm. A Ca2+-induced reversible change in the intensities of the meridional Bragg peaks indicated that supramolecular rearrangements occurred in response to altered concentrations of free Ca2+. In the presence of Ca2+, the dominant diffracting subspecies were microfibrils aligned in an axial 0.33-D stagger. The removal of Ca2+ caused an enhanced regularity in molecular spacing of individual microfibrils, and the contribution from microfibrils not involved in staggered arrays became more dominant. Scanning transmission electron microscopy of isolated microfibrils revealed that Ca2+ removal or addition caused significant, reversible changes in microfibril mass distribution and periodicity. These results were consistent with evidence from x-ray diffraction. Simulated meridional x-ray diffraction profiles and analyses of isolated Ca2+-containing, staggered microfibrillar arrays were used to interpret the effects of Ca2+. These observations highlight the importance of Ca2+ to microfibrils and microfibrillar arrays in vivo.The Journal of Cell Biology 06/1998; 141(3):829-37. · 10.26 Impact Factor
Article: Endothelial function in Marfan syndrome: selective impairment of flow-mediated vasodilation.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The cardiovascular complications of Marfan syndrome arise due to alterations in the structural and functional properties of fibrillin, a constituent of vascular connective tissues. Fibrillin-containing microfibrils are closely associated with arterial endothelial cells, indicating a possible functional role for fibrillin in the endothelium. Plasma concentrations of endothelial cell products are elevated in Marfan subjects, which indirectly indicates endothelial dysfunction. This study directly assessed flow- and agonist-mediated endothelium-dependent brachial artery reactivity in Marfan subjects. In 20 Marfan and 20 control subjects, brachial artery diameter, blood flow, and blood pressure were measured by ultrasonic wall tracking, Doppler ultrasound, and photoplethysmography, respectively. Measurements were taken during hand hyperemia (a stimulus for endothelium-derived nitric oxide [NO] release in the upstream brachial artery) and after sublingual administration of the endothelium-independent vasodilator nitroglycerin. In 9 Marfan and 6 control subjects, the above parameters were also assessed during intra-arterial infusions of acetylcholine and bradykinin (agonists that stimulate NO production) and NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA, an inhibitor of NO production). Flow-mediated responses differed markedly between Marfan and control subjects (-1.6+/-3.5% versus 6. 50+/-4.1%, respectively; P<0.0001), whereas nitroglycerin produced similar vasodilation (14.2+/-5.7% versus 15.2+/-7.8%; P=NS). Agonist-induced vasodilation to incremental intra-arterial infusions of acetylcholine and bradykinin were not significantly different between Marfan and control subjects, and intra-arterial L-NMMA produced similar reductions in brachial artery diameter in both groups. These data demonstrate impaired flow-mediated but preserved agonist-mediated endothelium-dependent vasodilation in Marfan subjects and suggest preservation of basal NO release. Selective loss of flow-mediated dilation suggests a role for fibrillin in endothelial cell mechanotransduction.Circulation 03/1999; 99(7):909-15. · 14.74 Impact Factor
Article: The Tight skin mouse: demonstration of mutant fibrillin-1 production and assembly into abnormal microfibrils.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Mice carrying the Tight skin (Tsk) mutation harbor a genomic duplication within the fibrillin-1 (Fbn 1) gene that results in a larger than normal in-frame Fbn 1 transcript. In this study, the consequences of the Tsk mutation for fibrillin-containing microfibrils have been examined. Dermal fibroblasts from Tsk/+ mice synthesized and secreted both normal fibrillin (approximately 330 kD) and the mutant oversized Tsk fibrillin-1 (approximately 450 kD) in comparable amounts, and Tsk fibrillin-1 was stably incorporated into cell layers. Immunohistochemical and ultrastructural analyses of normal and Tsk/+ mouse skin highlighted differences in the gross organization and distribution of microfibrillar arrays. Rotary shadowing of high Mr preparations from Tsk/+ skin demonstrated the presence of abundant beaded microfibrils. Some of these had normal morphology and periodicity, but others were distinguished by diffuse interbeads, longer periodicity, and tendency to aggregate. The presence of a structurally abnormal population of microfibrils in Tsk/+ skin was unequivocally demonstrated after calcium chelation and in denaturating conditions. Scanning transmission electron microscopy highlighted the presence of more mass in Tsk/+ skin microfibrils than in normal mice skin microfibrils. These data indicate that Tsk fibrillin-1 polymerizes and becomes incorporated into a discrete population of beaded microfibrils with altered molecular organization.The Journal of Cell Biology 04/1998; 140(5):1159-66. · 10.26 Impact Factor