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J Biol Chem. 1995 Mar 24;270(12):6751-6.

The calcium binding properties and molecular organization of epidermal growth factor-like domains in human fibrillin-1.

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  • 1Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Human fibrillin-1 is a 350-kDa glycoprotein found in 10-nm connective tissue microfibrils. Mutations in the gene encoding this protein cause the Marfan syndrome, a disease characterized by cardiovascular, ocular, and skeletal abnormalities. Fibrillin-1 has a modular structure that includes 47 epidermal growth factor-like (EGF-like) domains, 43 of which contain a consensus sequence associated with calcium binding. A mutation causing an Asn-2144 --> Ser amino acid change in one of the potential calcium binding residues has been described in a patient with the Marfan syndrome. We have chemically synthesized a wild-type EGF-like domain (residues 2126-2165 of human fibrillin-1) and a mutant EGF-like domain containing the Asn-2144 --> Ser amino acid change and measured calcium binding to each using 1H-NMR spectroscopy. The wild-type domain binds calcium with a similar affinity to isolated EGF-like domains from coagulation factors IX and X; however, the mutant domain exhibits > 5-fold reduction in affinity. Rotary shadowing of fibrillin-containing microfibrils, isolated from dermal fibroblast cultures obtained from the Marfan patient, shows that the mutation does not prevent assembly of fibrillin into microfibrils but does alter the appearance of the interbead region. We have modeled a region of fibrillin-1 (residues 2126-2331) encompassing five calcium binding EGF-like domains, using data derived from the recently determined crystal structure of a calcium binding EGF-like domain from human factor IX. Our model suggests that these fibrillin-1 EGF-like domains adopt a helical arrangement stabilized by calcium and that defective calcium binding to a single EGF-like domain results in distortion of the helix. We propose a mechanism for the interaction of contiguous arrays of calcium binding EGF-like domains within the microfibril.

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