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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1975 Aug;72(8):3009-13.

Interchain disulfide bonds in procollagen are located in a large nontriple-helical COOH-terminal domain.


Tadpole collagenase (EC cleaved chick cranial bone procollagen into two triple-stranded fragments, PCA and PCB. Only PCB, with an estimated molecular weight of about 60,000 for each component chain after reduction, was found to contain interchain disulfide bonds. The analogous cleavage of collagen is known to produce a large NH2-terminal fragment with a molecular weight of 70,000 for each chain and a small COOH-terminal fragment containing chains of about 25,000 molecular weight. Since PCB was too small to represent the product NH2-terminal to the site of collagenase cleavage, localization of interchain disulfide bonds to a COOH-terminal domain in procollagen was indicated. This assignment was conformed by Dintzis-type short-term labeling experiments. Procollagen obtained by acid extraction of bone lacked the COOH-terminal disulfide-bonded domain. The findings support a model for procollagen consisting of three proalpha chains each containing nonhelical NH2-terminal extensions of 20,000 molecular weight and COOH-terminal extensions of about 35,000 molecular weight, the latter linked by interchani disulfide bonds.

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