Fibrillin microfibrils are stiff reinforcing fibres in compliant tissues

Michael J. Sherratt, Clair Baldock, J. Louise Haston, David F. Holmes, Carolyn J P Jones, C. Adrian Shuttleworth, Timothy J. Wess, Cay M. Kielty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Fibrillin-rich microfibrils have endowed tissues with elasticity throughout multicellular evolution. We have used molecular combing techniques to determine Young's modulus for individual microfibrils and X-ray diffraction of zonular filaments of the eye to establish the linearity of microfibril periodic extension. Microfibril periodicity is not altered at physiological zonular tissue extensions and Young's modulus is between 78 MPa and 96 MPa, which is two orders of magnitude stiffer than elastin. We conclude that elasticity in microfibril-containing tissues arises primarily from reversible alterations in supra-microfibrillar arrangements rather than from intrinsic elastic properties of individual microfibrils which, instead, act as reinforcing fibres in fibrous composite tissues. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)183-193
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of molecular biology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2003


    • Atomic force microscopy
    • Fibrillin microfibrils
    • Molecular combing
    • X-ray fibre diffraction
    • Young's modulus


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