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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Detection of elastin in the human fetal membranes: proposed molecular basis for elasticity.

The human fetal membranes provide a sterile biomechanical container which adjust by growth to mid-pregnancy to the increase in fetal size, and by elasticity to the forceful movements of the fetus. The molecular basis for this elasticity is not known, yet reduced elasticity may lead to their premature rupture and preterm birth, a major problem in perinatal medicine. Classically, elastin confers the property of elastic recoil to elastic fibres which are assembled from a family of tropoelastin precursors. These are covalently cross-linked to form insoluble elastin by formation of desmosine and isodesmosine, catalysed by the enzyme lysyl oxidase. The amnion, chorion and decidua were shown by Northern analysis and RT-PCR to contain detectable levels of tropoelastin mRNA and the mRNA encoding lysyl oxidase. The proteins encoded by these mRNAs were also identified by Western blotting and immunolocalization. Further, insoluble elastin was extracted from the human fetal membranes and shown by comparison to elastin preparations from other elastic tissues to have a reasonable desmosine content. Finally, scanning electron microscopy confirmed the presence of multiple layers of an apparently very thin elastic system in this tissue. This biochemical and histopathologic study has demonstrated therefore that the human fetal membranes synthesize and deposit a novel elastic fibre. The presence of such an elastic system in these tissues provides, for the first time, a probable molecular basis for the elastic properties of this tissue.[1]


  1. Detection of elastin in the human fetal membranes: proposed molecular basis for elasticity. Hieber, A.D., Corcino, D., Motosue, J., Sandberg, L.B., Roos, P.J., Yu, S.Y., Csiszar, K., Kagan, H.M., Boyd, C.D., Bryant-Greenwood, G.D. Placenta (1997) [Pubmed]
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