Collagen in the egg shell membranes of the hen

Dev Biol. 1984 Jul;104(1):28-36. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(84)90033-2.


Collagen-like proteins have been found in the egg shell membranes of the hen. Materials similar to types I and V collagens were detected in each of the two layers of this membrane, the thick outer membrane and the thin inner membrane. Collagen was extracted by acid-pepsin digestion and isolated by differential salt precipitation. Identification of type-specific collagen-like material was established by coelectrophoresis on SDS-polyacrylamide gels using known collagen standards. These bands were susceptible to digestion by bacterial collagenase. From differential staining of the gels it was estimated that the ratio of collagen types I:V was approximately 100:1. Further confirmation of these biochemical results was obtained with immunofluorescence microscopy using type-specific antisera against chicken types I and V collagen with the indirect sandwich technique. Both the inner and outer shell membranes contained the two types of collagen. Within each membrane, the large, coarse 2.5-micron fibers contained predominantly type I collagen-like material, while type V collagen was mainly associated with the delicate narrower fibers of approximately 0.6-micron diameter. These tended to be concentrated in the inner membrane. At the electron microscopic level, both types of fibers were coated with glycoproteins that stained positively with ruthenium red. The deposition of these collagen-like substances by the hen oviduct on to the surface of the developing egg is an additional example of interstitial-type collagen synthesis and secretion by epithelial rather than by mesenchymal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chickens
  • Collagen / analysis*
  • Egg Shell / analysis*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Female
  • Immune Sera
  • Membranes / analysis
  • Membranes / ultrastructure
  • Microbial Collagenase
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Ruthenium Red


  • Immune Sera
  • Ruthenium Red
  • Collagen
  • Microbial Collagenase