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J Struct Biol. 1998;122(1-2):92-100.

A consensus model for molecular packing of type I collagen.

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Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, United Kingdom.


In this review, recent results from X-ray diffraction studies of tendon are used to develop an understanding of the molecular packing of type I collagen in tendon fibrils. These cover the definition of the unit cell as triclinic, the lateral architecture of molecular packing in a fibril and the molecular packing topology of a structure that gives good agreement with X-ray diffraction data. The proposed model is a 1D staggered left handed microfibril; the molecular orientation of the telopeptides indicates that there are interconnections between microfibrils that may explain the difficulty in isolating individual microfibrillar structures. This is the first structure that defines the absolute molecular packing of molecular segments based on X-ray diffraction data. These results are discussed in the light of direct and indirect evidence relating to molecular packing such as mineralization, natural crosslink position, and biomechanical evidence. The ability of the proposed structure to fulfill many of the structural and biochemical criteria point towards the structure providing a basis for a consensus model of collagen packing.

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