The molecular mechanisms of fibrillin assembly into microfibrils are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated human fibrillin-1 carboxy-terminal processing and assembly using a recombinant approach. Processing of carboxy-terminal fibrillin-1 was strongly influenced by N-glycosylation at the site immediately downstream of the furin site, and by association with calreticulin. The carboxy terminus of fibrillin-2 underwent less efficient processing than carboxy-terminal fibrillin-1 under identical conditions. Size fractionation of the amino-terminal region of fibrillin-1, and of unprocessed and furin-processed carboxy-terminal region of fibrillin-1, revealed that the amino terminus formed abundant disulphide-bonded aggregates. Some association of unprocessed carboxy-terminal fibrillin-1 was also apparent, but processed carboxy-terminal sequences remained monomeric unless amino-terminal sequences encoded by exons 12–15 were present. These data indicate the presence of fibrillin-1 molecular recognition sequences within the amino terminus and the extreme carboxy-terminal sequence downstream of the furin site, and a specific amino- and carboxy-terminal association which could drive overlapping linear accretion of furin-processed fibrillin molecules in the extracellular space. Differences in processing of the two fibrillin isoforms may reflect differential abilities to assemble in the extracellular space.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists