Purpose: To examine ultrastructurally the composition of extracellular matrix (ECM) materials, the distribution of myocilin, and the colocalization of myocilin with ECM components in the juxtacanalicular tissue (JCT) of normal human eyes.
Methods: Postembedding immunoelectron microscopic studies were performed with antibodies specific for major ECM components, including fibronectin, laminin, vitronectin, tenascin, elastin, fibrillin-1, microfibril-associated glycoprotein (MAGP)-1, decorin, versican, and five types of collagen (I, III, IV, V, and VI). Hyaluronic acid was localized with the use of biotinylated hyaluronic acid-binding protein. Colloidal gold labeling was also performed using an anti-human myocilin polyclonal antibody. Colocalization of myocilin with ECM components was examined by double labeling, using different-sized gold particles. The possible interaction between myocilin and ECM molecules was evaluated by in vitro binding assays.
Results: Amorphous basement membrane-like materials in the JCT were confirmed to be made up chiefly of collagen type IV, laminin, and fibronectin. Elastin was localized to the central core of sheath-derived plaques. Fibronectin, fibrillin-1, MAGP-1, decorin, and type VI collagen were all localized to clusters of the banded material in the sheath surrounding the core, where several types of collagen, glycoproteins, and proteoglycans were also detected. Myocilin was found to associate mainly with the sheath material, overlapping extensively in distribution with fibronectin, fibrillin-1, and MAGP-1 and moderately with decorin and type VI collagen. Its localization was distinct from that of elastin. Interactions of myocilin with molecules such as fibronectin and fibrillin-1 were confirmed biochemically.
Conclusions: This study illustrated ultrastructurally the composition of ECM materials in the JCT of normal human eyes. The key finding was the association of myocilin with microfibrillar architecture in sheath-derived plaques where pathologic changes have been documented to occur in eyes of patients with primary open-angle glaucoma.