Smooth muscle is composed of cigar-shaped, non-striated cells, each of which is encapsulated by a basement membrane and forms the contractile portion of tubular organs such as the gastrointestinal tract, pulmonary tract, genitourinary tract, and vasculature, in which slow and sustained contractions are needed. We examined basement membranes produced by smooth muscle cells and, using α(IV) chain-specific monoclonal antibodies, analyzed type IV collagens in these organs. Detailed distribution analysis of the α chains in normal and Alport cases by use of specific antibodies indicated that there are at least three molecular forms of type IV collagen, [α1(IV)]2α2(IV), α3(IV)α4(IV)α5(IV), and α5(IV)/α6(IV). Smooth muscle cells in the urinary bladder and uterus were enclosed by basement membranes composed of α1, α2, α5, and α6 chains. The same α chains were present around smooth muscle cells in the muscular layer of the fundus of the stomach, whereas those in the antrum and further distal side of the gastrointestinal tract expressed mostly α1 and α2 chains. In addition, immunostaining analysis of the vasculature also showed that most of the smooth muscle cells were positive for α1 and α2 chains; however, α5 and α6 chains were also expressed by smooth muscle cells in the aorta and some arteries where blood pressure changes significantly. These results suggest that the smooth muscle cells enclosed by α5/α6-containing basement membranes might have some particular function related to mechanical stress or tensile strength during the characteristic contractile activity of tubular organs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- Cell Biology