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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Nov 26;1550(1):6-19.

Self-aggregation characteristics of recombinantly expressed human elastin polypeptides.

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Cardiovascular Research Program, Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Elastin is an extracellular matrix protein found in tissues requiring extensibility and elastic recoil. Monomeric elastin has the ability to aggregate into fibrillar structures in vitro, and has been suggested to participate in the organization of its own assembly into a polymeric matrix in vivo. Although hydrophobic sequences in elastin have been suggested to be involved in this process of self-organization, the contributions of specific hydrophobic and crosslinking domains to the propensity of elastin to self-assemble have received less attention. We have used a series of defined, recombinant human elastin polypeptides to investigate the factors contributing to elastin self-assembly. In general, coacervation temperature of these polypeptides, used as a measure of their propensity to self-assemble, was influenced both by salt concentration and polypeptide concentration. In addition, hydrophobic domains appeared to be essential for the ability of these polypeptides to self-assemble. However, neither overall molecular mass, number of hydrophobic domains nor general hydropathy of the polypeptides provided a complete explanation for differences in coacervation temperature, suggesting that the specific nature of the sequences of these hydrophobic domains are an important determinant of the ability of elastin polypeptides to self-assemble.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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