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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 1;286(26):22905-12. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.199984. Epub 2011 Apr 10.

Interstrand dipole-dipole interactions can stabilize the collagen triple helix.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The amino acid sequence of collagen is composed of GlyXaaYaa repeats. A prevailing paradigm maintains that stable collagen triple helices form when (2S)-proline (Pro) or Pro derivatives that prefer the C(γ)-endo ring pucker are in the Xaa position and Pro derivatives that prefer the C(γ)-exo ring pucker are in the Yaa position. Anomalously, an amino acid sequence in an invertebrate collagen has (2S,4R)-4-hydroxyproline (Hyp), a C(γ)-exo-puckered Pro derivative, in the Xaa position. In certain contexts, triple helices with Hyp in the Xaa position are now known to be hyperstable. Most intriguingly, the sequence (GlyHypHyp)(n) forms a more stable triple helix than does the sequence (GlyProHyp)(n). Competing theories exist for the physicochemical basis of the hyperstability of (GlyHypHyp)(n) triple helices. By synthesizing and analyzing triple helices with different C(γ)-exo-puckered proline derivatives in the Xaa and Yaa positions, we conclude that interstrand dipole-dipole interactions are the primary determinant of their additional stability. These findings provide a new framework for understanding collagen stability.

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