The glomerular basement membrane of the kidney, responsible for performing ultrafiltration blood plasma, is largely comprised of type-IV collagen and laminin. Type-IV collagen self-assembles into a heterotrimer composed of three distinct domains (fig. 1A): (1) the globular non-collagenous NCl domain of ∼10 nm in diameter, (2) the non-collagenous 7S domain ∼30 nm in length and ∼3nm in diameter, and (3) the collagenous triple helix of ∼370 nm in length and ∼3 nm in diameter composed of a repeating Gly-X-Y subunit [1]. The heterotrimers associate with remarkable specificity from six genetically distinct α-chains, α1(IV) to α6(IV) forming α1α1α2, α3α4α5, and α5α5α6 heterotrimers [2]. In the healthy glomerulus, α1α1α2 ([α1]2α2) is the predominate collagen while significant α3α4α5 is present; α5α5α6 exists only in negligible quantities [2].

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