Molecular architecture of basement membranes

Yurchenco, Peter D.; Schittny, Johannes C. (1990). Molecular architecture of basement membranes. FASEB journal, 4(6), pp. 1577-1590. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

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Basement membranes are specialized extracellular matrices with support, sieving, and cell regulatory functions. The molecular architectures of these matrices are created through specific binding interactions between unique glycoprotein and proteoglycan protomers. Type IV collagen chains, using NH2-terminal, COOH-terminal, and lateral association, form a covalently stabilized polygonal framework. Laminin, a four-armed glycoprotein, self-assembles through terminal-domain interactions to form a second polymer network, Entactin/nidogen, a dumbbell-shaped sulfated glycoprotein, binds laminin near its center and interacts with type IV collagen, bridging the two. A large heparan sulfate proteoglycan, important for charge-dependent molecular sieving, is firmly anchored in the basement membrane and can bind itself through a core-protein interaction to form dimers and oligomers and bind laminin and type IV collagen through its glycosaminoglycan chains. Heterogeneity of structure and function occur in different tissues, in development, and in response to different physiological needs. The molecular architecture of these matrices may be regulated during or after primary assembly through variations in compositions, isoform substitutions, and the modifying influence of exogenous macromolecules such as heparin and heparan sulfate.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Anatomy > Functional Anatomy

UniBE Contributor:

Schittny, Johannes


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology




Johannes Schittny

Date Deposited:

18 Aug 2014 12:20

Last Modified:

18 Aug 2014 12:20

PubMed ID:



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