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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jan 7;280(1):191-8. Epub 2004 Oct 27.

Single amino acid substitutions in procollagen VII affect early stages of assembly of anchoring fibrils.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


Procollagen VII is a homotrimer of 350-kDa pro-alpha1(VII) chains, each consisting of a central collagenous domain flanked by the noncollagenous N-terminal NC1 domain and the C-terminal NC2 domain. After secretion from cells, procollagen VII molecules form anti-parallel dimers with a C-terminal 60-nm overlap. Characteristic alignment of procollagen VII monomers forming a dimer depends on site-specific binding between the NC2 domain and the triple-helical region adjacent to Cys-2634 of the interacting procollagen VII molecules. Formation of the intermolecular disulfide bonds between Cys-2634 and either Cys-2802 or Cys-2804 is promoted by the cleavage of the NC2 domain by procollagen C-proteinase. By employing recombinant procollagen VII variants harboring G2575R, R2622Q, or G2623C substitutions previously disclosed in patients with dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, we studied how these amino acid substitutions affect intermolecular interactions. Binding assays utilizing an optical biosensor demonstrated that the G2575R substitution increased affinity between mutant molecules. In contrast, homotypic binding between the R2622Q or G2623C molecules was not detected. In addition, kinetics of heterotypic binding of all analyzed mutants to wild type collagen VII were different from those for binding between wild type molecules. Moreover, solid-state binding assays demonstrated that R2622Q and G2623C substitutions prevent formation of stable assemblies of procollagen C-proteinase-processed mutants. These results indicate that single amino acid substitutions in procollagen VII alter its self-assembly and provide a basis for understanding the pathomechanisms leading from mutations in the COL7A1 gene to fragility of the dermal-epidermal junction seen in patients with dystrophic forms of epidermolysis bullosa.

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