The self-assembly of a mini-fibril with axial periodicity from a designed collagen-mimetic triple helix [Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices]

February 11th, 2015 by Jeet Kaur, P., Strawn, R., Bai, H., Xu, K., Ordas, G., Matsui, H., Xu, Y.

In this work we describe the self-assembly of a collagen-like periodic mini-fibril from a recombinant triple helix. The triple helix, designated Col108, is expressed in E. coli using an artificial gene and consists of a 378-residue triple helix domain organized into three pseudo-repeating sequence units. The peptide forms a stable triple helix with a melting temperature of 41 °C. Upon increases of pH and temperature, Col108 self-assembles in solution into smooth mini-fibrils with the cross-striated banding pattern typical of fibrillar collagens. The banding pattern is characterized by an axially repeating feature of ~ 35 nm as observed by TEM and AFM. Both the negatively stained and the positively stained TEM patterns of the Col108 mini-fibrils are consistent with a staggered arrangement of triple helices having a staggering value of 123 residues, a value closely connected to the size of one repeat sequence unit. A mechanism is proposed for the mini-fibril formation of Col108 in which the axial periodicity is instigated by the built-in sequence periodicity and stabilized by the optimized interactions between the triple helices in a 1-unit staggered arrangement. Lacking hydroxyproline residues and telopeptides - two factors implicated in the fibrillogenesis of native collagen - the Col108 mini-fibrils demonstrate that sequence features of the triple helical domain alone are sufficient to 'code' for axially repeating periodicity of fibrils. To our knowledge, Col108 is the first designed triple helix to self-assemble into periodic fibrils, and offers a unique opportunity to unravel the specific molecular interactions of collagen fibrillogenesis.
  • Posted in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Publications
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