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J Biol Chem. 2002 Jan 18;277(3):2118-24. Epub 2001 Nov 6.

The recombinant expression of full-length type VII collagen and characterization of molecular mechanisms underlying dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


Type VII collagen is a major component of anchoring fibrils, attachment structures that mediate dermal-epidermal adherence in human skin. Dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB) is an inherited mechano-bullous disorder caused by mutations in the type VII collagen gene and perturbations in anchoring fibrils. In this study, we produced recombinant human type VII collagen in stably transfected human 293 cell clones and purified large quantities of the recombinant protein from culture media. The recombinant type VII collagen was secreted as a correctly folded, disulfide-bonded, helical trimer resistant to protease degradation. Purified type VII collagen bound to fibronectin, laminin-5, type I collagen, and type IV collagen and also supported human dermal fibroblast adhesion. In an attempt to establish genotype-phenotype relationships, we generated two individual substitution mutations that have been associated with recessive DEB, R2008G and G2749R, and purified the recombinant mutant proteins. The G2749R mutation resulted in mutant type VII collagen with increased sensitivity to protease degradation and decreased ability to form trimers. The R2008G mutation caused the intracellular accumulation of type VII collagen. We conclude that structural and functional studies of in vitro generated type VII collagen mutant proteins will aid in correlating genetic mutations with the clinical phenotypes of DEB patients.

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