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Sorsby’s fundus dystrophy (SFD) is caused by mutations in tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-3 and, with the exception of early onset, is similar to age-related macular degeneration. The pathological features of this condition relate to the accumulation of TIMP-3 in Bruch’s membrane.To compare the extracellular membrane-binding characteristics of wild-type and four SFD-mutant TIMP-3s.COS-7 cells were transfected with wild-type, Ser-181, Gly-167, Ser-156 and Tyr-168 SFD-mutant TIMP-3 cDNA. The TIMP-3 proteins subsequently synthesised were harvested, analysed by sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, semiquantified by ELISA and used in binding assays on the basis of the retention of the wild-type and SFD-mutant TIMP-3 proteins by components of Bruch’s membrane.SFD-mutant TIMP-3s could not be distinguished from wild-type TIMP-3 by the extents to which they aggregated or adhered to type-I collagen, type-IV collagen, fibronectin, laminin, elastin, chondroitin sulphates A, B and C, and heparin sulphate. Of these macromolecules, the wild-type and SFD-mutant TIMP-3s exhibited greatest affinity for elastin and laminin.The similarity in the physical and extracellular membrane-binding characteristics of wild-type and SFD-mutant TIMP-3s indicates that these properties are not responsible for the difference in timing of onset of SFD and age-related macular degeneration.