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EMBO J. 2000 Oct 2;19(19):5051-9.

A short sequence in the N-terminal region is required for the trimerization of type XIII collagen and is conserved in other collagenous transmembrane proteins.

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  • 1Collagen Research Unit, Biocenter and Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Oulu, FIN-90220 Oulu, Finland.


The recombinant transmembrane protein type XIII collagen is shown to reside on the plasma membrane of insect cells in a 'type II' orientation. Expressions of deletion constructs showed that sequences important for the association of three alpha1(XIII) chains reside in their N- rather than C-terminal portion. In particular, a deletion of residues 63-83 immediately adjacent to the transmembrane domain abolished the formation of disulfide-bonded trimers. The results imply that nucleation of the type XIII collagen triple helix occurs at the N-terminal region and that triple helix formation proceeds from the N- to the C-terminus, in opposite orientation to that of the fibrillar collagens. Interestingly, a sequence homologous to the deleted residues was found at the same plasma membrane-adjacent location in other collagenous transmembrane proteins, suggesting that it may be a conserved association domain. The type XIII collagen was secreted into insect cell medium in low amounts, but this secretion was markedly enhanced when the cytosolic portion was lacking. The cleavage occurred in the non-collagenous NC1 domain after four arginines and was inhibited by a furin protease inhibitor.

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