Cellular invasion and collagen type IX in the primary corneal stroma in vitro. Academic Article uri icon


  • During different stages in the development of the avian cornea, various collagen types have been shown to participate in matrix formation and have been implicated in morphogenesis. One of these is the fibril-associated collagen type IX. This molecule is present when the primary corneal stroma is in a compact state, but rapidly disappears just prior to stromal swelling and its invasion by mesenchymal cells. The temporospatial pattern of the disappearance of type IX collagen in the developing cornea suggests that this molecule may be involved in stabilizing the primary corneal stromal matrix by interacting either with other type IX collagen molecules or with other matrix components. To explore further whether the removal of type IX collagen is involved in stromal swelling, we have employed an in vitro culture system in which swelling of the primary stroma and mesenchymal cell invasion can be experimentally manipulated by culturing chick corneal explants on a Nuclepore filter support in the presence or absence of an associated lens. We have also examined the effect of exogenously added human recombinant tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP-1) on the presence of type IX collagen and cellular invasion. When stage 25-26+ corneal explants were cultured with an associated lens, the primary stroma did not swell; immunohistochemically detectable type IX collagen was still present, and mesenchymal cell invasion failed to occur. Conversely, when the same stages of corneal explants were cultured without an associated lens, the primary stroma swelled; type IX collagen disappeared, and mesenchymal cell migration occurred. Under both conditions, however, the type II collagen of the stroma, which is known to be a component of the striated fibrils, remained clearly detectable and with time even seemed to increase in amount. This result is consistent with the proposition that type IX collagen is one factor involved in maintaining the primary stroma as a compact matrix, possibly by functioning as a bridging/stabilizing factor. When TIMP was added to cultures of corneal explants, type IX collagen remained detectable in focal regions, suggesting that one or more metalloproteinases are involved in the removal of the type IX collagen. In addition, some of these type IX-containing regions contained mesenchymal cells, suggesting that in addition to type IX collagen other factors are likely to be involved in regulating mesenchymal cell migration.

published proceedings

  • Dev Dyn

author list (cited authors)

  • Cai, C. X., Fitch, J. M., Svoboda, K. K., Birk, D. E., & Linsenmayer, T. F.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Cai, CX||Fitch, JM||Svoboda, KK||Birk, DE||Linsenmayer, TF

publication date

  • November 1994