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Non-linearity of the collagen triple helix in solution and implications for collagen function.

Walker, Kenneth T; Nan, Ruodan; Wright, David W; Gor, Jayesh; Bishop, Anthony C; Makhatadze, George I; Brodsky, Barbara; Perkins, Stephen J.
Biochem J; 474(13): 2203-2217, 2017 06 16.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28533266
Collagen adopts a characteristic supercoiled triple helical conformation which requires a repeating (Xaa-Yaa-Gly)n sequence. Despite the abundance of collagen, a combined experimental and atomistic modelling approach has not so far quantitated the degree of flexibility seen experimentally in the solution structures of collagen triple helices. To address this question, we report an experimental study on the flexibility of varying lengths of collagen triple helical peptides, composed of six, eight, ten and twelve repeats of the most stable Pro-Hyp-Gly (POG) units. In addition, one unblocked peptide, (POG)10unblocked, was compared with the blocked (POG)10 as a control for the significance of end effects. Complementary analytical ultracentrifugation and synchrotron small angle X-ray scattering data showed that the conformations of the longer triple helical peptides were not well explained by a linear structure derived from crystallography. To interpret these data, molecular dynamics simulations were used to generate 50 000 physically realistic collagen structures for each of the helices. These structures were fitted against their respective scattering data to reveal the best fitting structures from this large ensemble of possible helix structures. This curve fitting confirmed a small degree of non-linearity to exist in these best fit triple helices, with the degree of bending approximated as 4-17° from linearity. Our results open the way for further studies of other collagen triple helices with different sequences and stabilities in order to clarify the role of molecular rigidity and flexibility in collagen extracellular and immune function and disease.
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