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Proteins. 2001 Oct 1;45(1):90-5.

Role of Ca(2+) for the mechanical properties of fibrillin.

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Cardiff School of Biosciences, Connective Tissue Biology Laboratories, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.


Fibrillin-rich microfibrils are important structural elements widespread throughout connective tissues. Genetic defects identified in the Ca(2+) binding sites of fibrillin have severe effects and in addition Ca(2+) has a marked effect on the microfibrillar structure. We have studied the role of Ca(2+) on the mechanical behavior of fibrillin-rich microfibrils using the micro-needle technique. We find that Ca(2+)-depletion results in a 50% decrease in rest length and reduces the stiffness of fibrillin-rich microfibrils. At high strain, irreversible damage occurs. This behavior is consistent with Ca(2+) stabilization of interactions between consecutive EGF-like domains and breakdown in the quaternary structure upon over-extension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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