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J Biol Chem. 2004 Mar 12;279(11):9811-7. Epub 2003 Dec 9.

Distinct maturations of N-propeptide domains in fibrillar procollagen molecules involved in the formation of heterotypic fibrils in adult sea urchin collagenous tissues.

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Institut de Biologie et Chimie des Protéines, CNRS, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5086, Université Claude Bernard, France.


We have characterized the primary structure of a new sea urchin fibrillar collagen, the 5alpha chain, including nine repeats of the sea urchin fibrillar module in its N-propeptide. By Western blot and immunofluorescence analyses, we have shown that 5alpha is co-localized in adult collagenous ligaments with the 2alpha fibrillar collagen chain and fibrosurfin, two other extracellular matrix proteins possessing sea urchin fibrillar modules. At the ultrastructural level, the 5alpha N-propeptide is detected at the surface of fibrils, suggesting the retention of this domain in mature collagen molecules. Biochemical characterization of pepsinized collagen molecules extracted from the test tissue (the endoskeleton) together with a matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight analysis allowed us to determine that 5alpha is a quantitatively minor fibrillar collagen chain in comparison with the 1alpha and 2alpha chains. Moreover, 5alpha forms heterotrimeric molecules with two 1alpha chains. Hence, as in vertebrates, sea urchin collagen fibrils are made up of quantitatively major and minor fibrillar molecules undergoing distinct maturation of their N-propeptide regions and participating in the formation of heterotypic fibrils.

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