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J Biol Chem. 1994 Nov 11;269(45):28193-9.

Type XII and XIV collagens mediate interactions between banded collagen fibers in vitro and may modulate extracellular matrix deformability.

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  • 1Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02115.


Type XII and XIV collagens are very large molecules containing three extended globular domains derived from the amino terminus of each alpha chain and an interrupted triple helix. Both collagens are genetically and immunologically unique and have distinct distributions in many tissues. These collagens localize near the surface of banded collagen fibrils. The function of the molecules is unknown. We have prepared a mixture of native type XII and XIV collagens that is free of contaminating proteins by electrophoretic criteria. In addition, we have purified the collagenase-resistant globular domains of type XII or XIV collagens (XII-NC-3 or XIV-NC-3). In this study, we have investigated the effect of intact type XII and XIV and XII-NC-3 or XIV-NC-3 on the interactions between fibroblasts and type I collagen fibrils. We find that both type XII and XIV collagens promote collagen gel contraction mediated by fibroblasts, even in the absence of serum. The activity is present in the NC-3 domains. The effect is dose-dependent and is inhibited by denaturation. The effect of type XII NC-3 is inhibited by the addition of anti-XII antiserum. To elucidate the mechanism underlying this phenomenon, we examined the effect of XII-NC-3 or XIV-NC-3 on deformability of collagen gels by centrifugal force. XII-NC-3 or XIV-NC-3 markedly promotes gel compression after centrifugation. The effect is also inhibited by denaturation, and the activity of type XII-NC3 is inhibited by the addition of anti-XII antiserum. The results indicate that the effect of XII-NC-3 or XIV-NC-3 on collagen gel contraction by fibroblasts is not due to activation of cellular events but rather results from the increase in mobility of hydrated collagen fibrils within the gel. These studies suggest that collagen types XII and XIV may modulate the biomechanical properties of tissues.

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