Indirect immunofluorescence and transmission electron microscopy were used to investigate the composition and assembly of proteoglycans in the basement membranes of the spiral limbus, basilar membrane, spiral ligament, Reissner's membrane, myelinated nerve fibers, and blood capillaries of the spiral ligament and stria vascularis in the chinchilla cochlea. Four types of basement membrane components: laminin, entactin/nidogen, type IV collagen and heparan sulfate proteoglycans were immunolocalized in all basement membranes in association with heparan sulfate proteoglycans. β 1 and α 1 integrin subunits were also detected along these basement membranes. The concentration of the basement membrane-associated proteins and integrin subunits differed according to the adjacent cell type. Electron microscopy showed that all basement membranes, with exception of those of stria vascularis, consist of two layers: lamina lucida and lamina densa. In the stria vascularis only a homogeneous lamina densa was observed. Cuprolinic blue treatment revealed heterogeneity in the ultrastructure and arrangement of proteoglycans in the cochlear basement membranes. Proteoglycans of the subepithelial basement membrane in the spiral limbus and spiral ligament formed quasi-regular, linear arrays within the lamina lucida, or were located at both sides of the lamina densa in the basilar membrane and Reissner's membrane. In the basement membranes of nerve fibers, and capillaries in the spiral ligament and stria vascularis, proteoglycans were scattered throughout these basement membranes, but showed different concentration and ultrastructural appearance, which may be related to different filtration and mechanical properties. In the basilar membrane, PGs were located above and below the lamina densa. An additional layer of PGs below the lamina densa may function as increased mechanical support of organ of Corti by its interaction with underlying fibrillar collagen layer. In the stria vascularis capillaries, PGs were stained considerably less with Cuprolinic blue and were scattered through the lamina densa of the basement membrane compared to capillaries of spiral ligament. This observation is compatible with a higher permeability of the strial capillaries.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors are grateful to Dr. Daniel Swartz for his help in the immunohistochemical analysis and Dr. Mary Kleppel for the kind gift of the anti-entactin/nidogen antibody. This research was supported by NS12125 and 1R03 DC 04464-01A1 Grants from the NIDCD.
- Basement membrane
- Electron microscopy