"Ultrastructural Abnormalities of Extracellular Matrix Proteins"
The EM Facility uses a variety of techniques to visualize the molecular components of bone, cartilage and skin at high magnification using the electron microscope. Using specialized techniques of immunocytochemistry, this laboratory continues to be vital in identifying the specific location of newly discovered molecules. This knowledge allows us to hypothesize about their functional role in overall tissue architecture and function. When we examine a diseased tissue in which this newly acquainted architecture is disturbed, the molecule becomes suspect and is therefore a candidate for study and evaluation.
Several connective tissue diseases including epidermolysis bullosa (a blistering disease) have been attributed to a defect in a single molecule using this methodology. This facility is also at the forefront of using specialized techniques to optimally preserve tissue structure for examination at high magnification. Standard techniques, which have been in use for many years, cause artificial redistribution of many tissue components, significantly altering the appearance of a tissue when viewed using the electron microscope. Using ultra-rapid freezing technology we provoke far less damage, permitting us to see far greater tissue detail. These new techniques will allow us to precisely determine the location of many small molecules, which would otherwise be moved out of place. We expect that accuracy of our understanding of tissue micro-architecture will significantly improve as a direct result of these studies.