Molecular architecture of basement membranes

P. D. Yurchenco, J. C. Schittny

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

756 Scopus citations


Basement membranes are specialized extracellular matrices with support, sieving, and cell regulatory functions. The molecular architectures of these matrices are created through specific binding interaction 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, and 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1577-1590
Number of pages14
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


  • basement membrane
  • collagen
  • entactin
  • laminin
  • nidogen
  • proteoglycan

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