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Connect Tissue Res. 1993;29(2):81-98.

The post-translational chemistry and molecular packing of mineralizing tendon collagens.

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CB 7455 Dental Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7455.


Using cross-linking stereochemistry as indicators, the molecular environment of two collagens in the turkey leg Achilles tendon were compared. The tendon from one year old turkeys was dissected into nonmineralized, fully mineralized and transitionally mineralized portions. Amino acid composition and cyanogen bromide peptide mapping of these portions indicated that the collagens were essentially type I throughout. The fully mineralized compartment had a lysine hydroxylation level similar to turkey or mammalian bone collagen. The non- and transitionally mineralized collagens had a significantly higher lysine hydroxylation, typical of tendon or ligament. However, unlike mammalian tendon, the collagen cross-links were essentially derived from the carboxy-terminal ends of the molecules. The predominant cross-link in this portion was pyridinoline having a high content of 0.95 +/- 0.09 res/mole of collagen. The cross-links in the fully mineralized collagen were also essentially derived from carboxy-terminal aldehyde. However, here significant amounts of the lysyl analog of pyridinoline and lysine-involved bifunctional cross-links were present. The molecular loci of pyridinoline in nonmineralized collagen and the lysyl analog of pyridinoline in mineralized collagen were found to be identical. The total trifunctional cross-link level in the mineralized collagen, 0.55 +/- 0.05 res/mole of collagen, was virtually identical to that observed in old mammalian bone and dentin, and in long term in vitro incubation studies of predentin. We have tentatively concluded that the post-translational chemistry and molecular environments are different in these two turkey tendon fibrils. However, a relative paucity of amino-terminal based cross-links is a feature they have in common. The possible involvement of the amino-terminal telopeptides in collagen mineralization is discussed.

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