Polypeptide composition of the mammalian tectorial membrane

Hear Res. 1987;25(1):45-60. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(87)90078-5.


The effects of the enzymes collagenase, pepsin, chondroitinase ABC and keratanase on the polypeptide composition of the mammalian tectorial membrane have been analysed using one dimensional SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). After reduction at least ten polypeptides can be consistently and clearly recognized in SDS gels with molecular weights relative to globular protein standards of 245, 235, 190, 165, 155, 145, 100, 93, 60-73 and 35-49 kDa. With the exception of the 60-73 and 35-49 kDa bands all these polypeptides are sensitive to digestion with bacterial collagenase. The 235, 165, 155, 145 and 93 kDa bands also resist degradation by cold, acidic pepsin. Amino acid analysis of whole tectorial membranes demonstrates that glycine accounts for nearly 25% of the total amino acid content, that proline, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are present and that amine sugars can be detected in fairly high concentrations. Estimates based on hydroxyproline content suggest that collagens account for 25-50% of the total tectorial membrane protein. Immunoblotting techniques demonstrate the presence of polypeptides cross reacting with antisera to Type II collagen, Type IX collagen and Type V collagen. Results from immunohistochemical studies confirm that these polypeptides are present in the tectorial membrane and are not contaminants of the isolation procedure. Collagenase treatment of tectorial membranes reveals the presence of an additional non-collagenous polypeptide with an apparent molecular weight of 173 kDa on 7.5% polyacrylamide gels, and polydisperse high molecular weight material spreading over a broad range at the top of the gels. This high molecular weight material and the 173, 60-73 and 35-49 kDa non-collagenous polypeptides are pepsin sensitive and all bind wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) suggesting that they contain N-acetyl glucosamine. The 173 kDa band also binds soybean agglutinin (SBA) suggesting the presence of N-acetyl galactosamine. In the absence of reducing agent the 173 and 60-73 kDa bands are no longer observed and high molecular weight material forming a broad band at the top of the separating gel is seen. The electrophoretic behaviour of this non-collagenous, glycosylated, disulphide bonded, high molecular weight material is altered by treatment with keratanase but not by chondroitinase ABC. The results of this study indicate the tectorial membrane contains at least three different collagen types and, in addition to these collagenous proteins, several non-collagenous, glycosylated polypeptides that may account for as much as 50% of the total tectorial membrane protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylgalactosamine / analysis
  • Acetylglucosamine / analysis
  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Animals
  • Cochlea / analysis*
  • Collagen / analysis
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glycine / analysis
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Mice
  • Peptides / analysis*
  • Tectorial Membrane / analysis*


  • Amino Acids
  • Peptides
  • Collagen
  • Acetylgalactosamine
  • Glycine
  • Acetylglucosamine