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Biochemistry. 2006 Aug 22;45(33):9989-96.

Tropoelastin massively associates during coacervation to form quantized protein spheres.

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School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences G08, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.


Tropoelastin, the precursor of elastin, undergoes a rapid monomer to multimer association in an inverse temperature transition. This association culminates in the rapid formation of stable, optically distinct droplets of tropoelastin. Light scattering and microscope measurements reveal that these droplets are 2-6 microm in diameter. Scanning electron microscopy confirms that the droplets are spherical. Three-dimensional confocal image stacks based on the autofluorescence of tropoelastin reveal that droplets are loaded with hydrated tropoelastin. Droplets are viable intermediates in synthetic elastin macroassembly. Dense clusters of aggregated droplets and partially formed fibers develop when droplets are incubated in the presence of a lysyl oxidase. Lysine-reacting chemical and enzyme-assisted cross-linking conditions generate cross-linked beads due to interactions between multiple, surface-exposed lysine epsilon-amino groups. Droplets represent an efficient mechanism for the bolus delivery during elastogenesis of quantized packages of preaccreted tropoelastin.

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