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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jun 4;279(23):24265-73. Epub 2004 Mar 26.

Characterization of recombinant amino-terminal NC4 domain of human collagen IX: interaction with glycosaminoglycans and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein.

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  • 1NMR Laboratory, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Finland.


The N-terminal NC4 domain of collagen IX is a globular structure projecting away from the surface of the cartilage collagen fibril. Several interactions have been suggested for this domain, reflecting its location and its characteristic high isoelectric point. In an attempt to characterize the NC4 domain in more detail, we set up a prokaryotic expression system to produce the domain. The purified 27.5-kDa product was analyzed for its glycosaminoglycan-binding potential by surface plasmon resonance and solid-state assays. The results show that the NC4 domain of collagen IX specifically binds heparin with a K(d) of 0.6 microm, and the full-length recombinant collagen IX has an even stronger interaction with heparin, with an apparent K(d) of 3.6 nm. The heparin-binding site of the NC4 domain was located in the extreme N terminus, containing a heparin-binding consensus sequence, whereas electron microscopy suggested the presence of at least three additional heparin-binding sites on full-length collagen IX. The NC4 domain was also shown to bind cartilage oligomeric matrix protein. This interaction and the association of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein with other regions of collagen IX were found to be heparin-competitive. Circular dichroism analyses of the NC4 domain indicated the presence of stabilizing disulfide bonds and a thermal denaturation point of about 80 degrees C. The pattern of disulfide bond formation within the NC4 domain was identified by tryptic peptide mass mapping of the NC4 in native and reduced states. A similar pattern was demonstrated for the NC4 domain of full-length recombinant collagen IX.

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