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Protein Eng. 1996 Jan;9(1):43-9.

Computer model of a bovine type I collagen microfibril.

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Eastern Regional Research Center, USDA, Philadelphia, PA 19118, USA.


Collagens are a family of structural proteins of the extracellular matrix. The fibril-forming collagens are the major structural proteins of skin, cartilage, bone, blood vessel walls and internal organs. In addition to biological function, the collagens provide natural structural frameworks that are utilized in the medical, food and leather industries. Many schemes for the organization of type I collagen into triple helices, microfibrils and fibrils have been proposed during the past 30 years. Here, the development of a molecular model of a bovine type I collagen "Smith' microfibril is described. In cross-section, this model exhibits a symmetrical, pentagonal grouping of five triple helices. The model comprises 15 polypeptide chains having 315 residues each. This model is large enough to allow a comparison of its gross structural features with images of stained collagen obtained by electron microscopy, yet small enough to be manipulated on a minicomputer or work-station. The model is useful for (among others) studies of structure-function relationships in collagen, exploring folding pathways, predicting the efficacy of potential crosslinking agents or chemical modifications, and designing synthetic collagen-like materials or modifications for specific applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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