Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Appearance of collagen fibrils in the cuticle was seen by electron microscopy to be preceded by fonnation of a finely filamentous matrix material. At first, the fine filaments of the matrix are unorganized. However, signs of orthogonal ordering soon appear in the most superficial portion of the cuticle, and subsequently appear more basally and closer to the underlying epidermis. Meanwhile, fibrils of different staining properties and identifiable as collagen begin to be deposited in the superficial portion of the cuticle, the same region which first showed organized fine filaments. Then, like the fine filaments before them, the collagen fibrils polymerize more basally. Collagen appears to polymerize on the preformed skeleton of fine filaments as though the fine filaments caused the collagen to assemble. Neither the polymerization nor ordering of collagen fibrils seems to require direct cellular intervention but occur first in that portion of the cuticle which is furthest away from the underlying epidermis. The fine filaments may be self ordering, extracellular macromolecules which in turn determine the polymerization of collagen fibrils.
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