The cysteine rich region of type VII collagen is a cystine knot with a new topology [Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices]

January 2nd, 2014 by Wegener, H., Paulsen, H., Seeger, K.

Collagens are a group of extracellular matrix proteins with essential functions for skin integrity. Anchoring fibrils are made of type VII collagen (Col7) and link different skin layers together - the basal lamina and the underlying connective tissue. Col7 has a central collagenous domain and two non-collagenous domains located at the N- and C-terminus (NC1 and NC2), respectively. A cysteine rich region of hitherto unknown function is located at the transition of the NC1 domain to the collagenous domain. A synthetic model peptide of this region was investigated by CD- and NMR spectroscopy. The peptide folds into a collagen triple helix and the cysteine residues form disulfide bridges between the different strands. The eight cystine knot topologies that are characterized by exclusively intermolecular disulfide bridges have been analyzed by molecular modeling. Two cystine knots are energetically preferred, however all eight disulfide bridge arrangements are essentially possible. This novel cystine knot is present in type IX collagen, too. The conserved motif of the cystine knot is C(X)3CP. The cystine knot is N-terminal to the collagen triple helix in both collagens and therefore probably impedes unfolding of the collagen triple helix from the N-terminus.