The thermally induced in vitro self-assembly of collagen molecules to form active fibrils illustrates that collagen molecules themselves contain all of the structural information necessary for assembly. The molecule contains three structural domains, the NH2 and carboxyl-terminal extra helical regions (the telopeptides) and the major triple helical rod-like domain. Proteolytic removal of the short telopeptide domains drastically alters the in vitro self-assembly process. We have examined the specific contributions of each telopeptide to the initiation ("nucleation") and growth stages of self-assembly in collagens modified by selective proteinase treatment and by isolating a peptide containing the amino telopeptide and adding this to both normal and proteinase-modified collagen self-assembly systems. Pronase-modified collagen, devoid of both telopeptides, initiated self-assembly very poorly. Addition of small amounts of intact collagen accelerated the rate of nucleation of pronase-modified collagen. Addition of carboxypeptidase-modified collagen also accelerated the nucleation of pronase-modified collagen, suggesting that the remaining amino telopeptide was involved in nucleation. This was confirmed by isolating the cyanogen bromide fragment of the alpha 1(I) subunit containing the amino telopeptide and finding that it specifically accelerated the nucleation of intact pepsin- and pronase-modified to collagens. The amino telopeptide appears to bind to a specific region within the collagen triple helical domain. The isolated peptide requires thermal pretreatment to be active; hence, this interaction must involve a unique telopeptide conformation. This behavior is compatible with the recent model (Helseth, D. L., Jr., Lechner, J. H., and Veis, A. (1979) Biopolymers 18, 3005-3014) proposed for the conformation of the amino telopeptide and its interaction with a helical receptor site as a step in nucleation. Comparison of the behavior of leucine aminopeptidase- and carboxypeptidase-modified collagens suggests that the carboxyl telopeptide has its major role in the growth stages of self-assembly.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Biological Chemistry|
|State||Published - Jul 25 1981|
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