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J Cell Sci. 2002 Nov 15;115(Pt 22):4201-14.

New functional roles for non-collagenous domains of basement membrane collagens.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0452, USA.


Collagens IV, XV and XVIII are major components of various basement membranes. In addition to the collagen-specific triple helix, these collagens are characterized by the presence of several non-collagenous domains. It is clear now that these ubiquitous collagen molecules are involved in more subtle and sophisticated functions than just the molecular architecture of basement membranes, particularly in the context of extracellular matrix degradation. Degradation of the basement membrane collagens occurs during numerous physiological and pathological processes such as embryonic development or tumorigenesis and generates collagen fragments. These fragments are involved in the regulation of functions differing from those of their original intact molecules. The non-collagenous C-terminal fragment NC1 of collagen IV, XV and XVIII have been recently highlighted in the literature because of their potential in reducing angiogenesis and tumorigenesis, but it is clear that their biological functions are not limited to these processes. Proteolytic release of soluble NC1 fragments stimulates migration, proliferation, apoptosis or survival of different cell types and suppresses various morphogenetic events.

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