Crystal structure of human type III collagen Gly991-Gly1032 cystine knot-containing peptide shows both 7/2 and 10/3 triple helical symmetries.
Type III collagen is a critical collagen that comprises extensible connective tissue such as skin, lung, and the vascular system. Mutations in the type III collagen gene, COL3A1, are associated with the most severe forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. A characteristic feature of type III collagen is the presence of a stabilizing C-terminal cystine knot. Crystal structures of collagen triple helices reported so far contain artificial sequences like (Gly-Pro-Pro)(n) or (Gly-Pro-Hyp)(n). To gain insight into the structural properties exhibited by the natural type III collagen triple helix, we synthesized, crystallized, and determined the structure of a 12-triplet repeating peptide containing the natural type III collagen sequence from residues 991 to 1032 including the C-terminal cystine knot region, to 2.3A resolution. This represents the longest collagen triple helical structure determined to date with a native sequence. Strikingly, the Gly(991)-Gly(1032) structure reveals that the central non-imino acid-containing region adopts 10/3 superhelical properties, whereas the imino acid rich N- and C-terminal regions adhere to a 7/2 superhelical conformation. The structure is consistent with two models for the cystine knot; however, the poor density for the majority of this region suggests that multiple conformations may be adopted. The structure shows that the multiple non-imino acids make several types of direct intrahelical as well as interhelical contacts. The looser superhelical structure of the non-imino acid region of collagen triple helices combined with the extra contacts afforded by ionic and polar residues likely play a role in fibrillar assembly and interactions with other extracellular components.
Boudko, SP; Engel, J; Okuyama, K; Mizuno, K; Bächinger, HP; Schumacher, MA
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