The ultrastructure of proteoglycans (PGs) in the tectorial membrane (TM) of the mature chinchilla cochlea was investigated using the cationic dye Cuprolinic blue. When used at a high critical electrolyte concentration, Cuprolinic blue has been shown specifically to bind to the glycosaminoglycan residues of sulfated PGs. After Cuprolinic blue treatment, PGs were observed in the TM which were represented as rodshaped, electrondense structures. A perifibrillar, primarily orthogonal, array of PGs was associated with the type A protofibrils. These PGs were distributed in 50 nm intervals along the length of the type A protofibrils. A less common orientation was parallel to the axis of the type A protofibrils. PGs did not appear to be associated with the type B protofibrils. Based upon previous results by other investigators, the TM contains types II and IX collagen, and it appears likely that the type A protofibrils are composed of collagen type II. PGs visualized in the TM in this study thus may represent the glycosaminoglycan residue of type IX collagen which is associated with the type II collagen fibrils. Alternatively, the TM PGs may be small dermatan or chondroitin sulfate PGs. Copyright1990 WileyLiss, Inc.
- Collagen types II, IX
- Cuprolinic blue