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From nano to macro: Studying the hierarchical structure of the corneal extracellular matrix

Quantock, Andrew James, Winkler, Moritz, Parfitt, Geraint J, Young, Robert David, Brown, Donald J., Boote, Craig and Jester, James V. 2015. From nano to macro: Studying the hierarchical structure of the corneal extracellular matrix. Experimental Eye Research 133 , pp. 81-99. 10.1016/j.exer.2014.07.018

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In this review, we discuss current methods for studying ocular extracellular matrix (ECM) assembly from the ‘nano’ to the ‘macro’ levels of hierarchical organization. Since collagen is the major structural protein in the eye, providing mechanical strength and controlling ocular shape, the methods presented focus on understanding the molecular assembly of collagen at the nanometre level using X-ray scattering through to the millimetre to centimetre level using non-linear optical (NLO) imaging of second harmonic generated (SHG) signals. Three-dimensional analysis of ECM structure is also discussed, including electron tomography, serial block face scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM) and digital image reconstruction. Techniques to detect non-collagenous structural components of the ECM are also presented, and these include immunoelectron microscopy and staining with cationic dyes. Together, these various approaches are providing new insights into the structural blueprint of the ocular ECM, and in particular that of the cornea, which impacts upon our current understanding of the control of corneal shape, pathogenic mechanisms underlying ectatic disorders of the cornea and the potential for corneal tissue engineering.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Optometry and Vision Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Uncontrolled Keywords: structural biology; X-ray scattering; non-linear optical microscopy; second harmonic generation; collagen; cornea; extracellular matrix
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0014-4835
Date of Acceptance: 21 July 2014
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2020 02:58

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