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1.  A Structure of a Collagen VI VWA Domain Displays N and C Termini at Opposite Sides of the Protein 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2014;22(2):199-208.
Summary
Von Willebrand factor A (VWA) domains are versatile protein interaction domains with N and C termini in close proximity placing spatial constraints on overall protein structure. The 1.2 Å crystal structures of a collagen VI VWA domain and a disease-causing point mutant show C-terminal extensions that place the N and C termini at opposite ends. This allows a “beads-on-a-string” arrangement of multiple VWA domains as observed for ten N-terminal domains of the collagen VI α3 chain. The extension is linked to the core domain by a salt bridge and two hydrophobic patches. Comparison of the wild-type and a muscular dystrophy-associated mutant structure identifies a potential perturbation of a protein interaction interface and indeed, the secretion of mutant collagen VI tetramers is affected. Homology modeling is used to locate a number of disease-associated mutations and analyze their structural impact, which will allow mechanistic analysis of collagen-VI-associated muscular dystrophy phenotypes.
Highlights
•The structure of a VWA domain (N5) of collagen VI at 1.2 Å is presented•N and C termini of the domain are at opposite ends•The structure with a myopathy-causing mutation shows altered interaction interface•The impact of mutations in collagen VI VWA domains was analyzed
Becker et al. describe a crystal structure of a von Willebrand factor A (VWA) domain, which has a C-terminal extension that places the N- and C-termini at opposite ends not seen before for A domains. This allows a “beads-on-a-string” arrangement of multiple VWA domains as observed for the collagen VI α3 chain.
doi:10.1016/j.str.2013.06.028
PMCID: PMC3919171  PMID: 24332716
2.  PECAM1+/Sca1+/CD38+ Vascular Cells Transform into Myofibroblast-Like Cells in Skin Wound Repair 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53262.
Skin injury induces the formation of new blood vessels by activating the vasculature in order to restore tissue homeostasis. Vascular cells may also differentiate into matrix-secreting contractile myofibroblasts to promote wound closure. Here, we characterize a PECAM1+/Sca1+ vascular cell population in mouse skin, which is highly enriched in wounds at the peak of neoangiogenesis and myofibroblast formation. These cells express endothelial and perivascular markers and present the receptor CD38 on their surface. PECAM1+/Sca1+/CD38+ cells proliferate upon wounding and could give rise to α-SMA+ myofibroblast-like cells. CD38 stimulation in immunodeficient mice reduced the wound size at the peak of neoangiogenesis and myofibroblast formation. In humans a corresponding cell population was identified, which was enriched in sprouting vessels of basal cell carcinoma biopsies. The results indicate that PECAM1+/Sca1+/CD38+ vascular cells could proliferate and differentiate into myofibroblast-like cells in wound repair. Moreover, CD38 signaling modulates PECAM1+/Sca1+/CD38+ cell activation in the healing process implying CD38 as a target for anti-angiogenic therapies in human basal cell carcinoma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053262
PMCID: PMC3537615  PMID: 23308177
3.  Epidermal Transglutaminase (TGase 3) Is Required for Proper Hair Development, but Not the Formation of the Epidermal Barrier 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34252.
Transglutaminases (TGase), a family of cross-linking enzymes present in most cell types, are important in events as diverse as cell-signaling and matrix stabilization. Transglutaminase 1 is crucial in developing the epidermal barrier, however the skin also contains other family members, in particular TGase 3. This isoform is highly expressed in the cornified layer, where it is believed to stabilize the epidermis and its reduction is implicated in psoriasis. To understand the importance of TGase 3 in vivo we have generated and analyzed mice lacking this protein. Surprisingly, these animals display no obvious defect in skin development, no overt changes in barrier function or ability to heal wounds. In contrast, hair lacking TGase 3 is thinner, has major alterations in the cuticle cells and hair protein cross-linking is markedly decreased. Apparently, while TGase 3 is of unique functional importance in hair, in the epidermis loss of TGase 3 can be compensated for by other family members.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034252
PMCID: PMC3319564  PMID: 22496784
4.  Expression of collagen VI α5 and α6 chains in human muscle and in Duchenne muscular dystrophy-related muscle fibrosis 
Matrix Biology  2012;31(3):187-196.
Collagen VI is a major extracellular matrix (ECM) protein with a critical role in maintaining skeletal muscle functional integrity. Mutations in COL6A1, COL6A2 and COL6A3 genes cause Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (UCMD), Bethlem Myopathy, and Myosclerosis. Moreover, Col6a1−/− mice and collagen VI deficient zebrafish display a myopathic phenotype. Recently, two additional collagen VI chains were identified in humans, the α5 and α6 chains, however their distribution patterns and functions in human skeletal muscle have not been thoroughly investigated yet. By means of immunofluorescence analysis, the α6 chain was detected in the endomysium and perimysium, while the α5 chain labeling was restricted to the myotendinous junctions. In normal muscle cultures, the α6 chain was present in traces in the ECM, while the α5 chain was not detected. In the absence of ascorbic acid, the α6 chain was mainly accumulated into the cytoplasm of a sub-set of desmin negative cells, likely of interstitial origin, which can be considered myofibroblasts as they expressed α-smooth muscle actin. TGF-β1 treatment, a pro-fibrotic factor which induces trans-differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts, increased the α6 chain deposition in the extracellular matrix after addition of ascorbic acid. In order to define the involvement of the α6 chain in muscle fibrosis we studied biopsies of patients affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). We found that the α6 chain was dramatically up-regulated in fibrotic areas where, in contrast, the α5 chain was undetectable. Our results show a restricted and differential distribution of the novel α6 and α5 chains in skeletal muscle when compared to the widely distributed, homologous α3 chain, suggesting that these new chains may play specific roles in specialized ECM structures. While the α5 chain may have a specialized function in tissue areas subjected to tensile stress, the α6 chain appears implicated in ECM remodeling during muscle fibrosis.
Highlights
► We study collagen VI alpha 5 and alpha 6 chains expression in human skeletal muscle. ► ► We show that alpha 5 chain is exclusively present at the myotendinous junctions. ► We show that alpha 6 chain is present in the ECM but not at the basement membranes. ► We show that alpha 6 chain increases in Duchenne muscular dystrophy muscle fibrosis. ► We hypothesize the possible formation of alpha1-2-6 or alpha1-2-5 chains trimers.
doi:10.1016/j.matbio.2011.12.003
PMCID: PMC3315014  PMID: 22226732
Collagen VI; Skeletal muscle; Myotendinous junctions; Fibrosis; Duchenne muscular dystrophy
5.  Micromechanical function of myofibrils isolated from skeletal and cardiac muscles of the zebrafish 
The Journal of General Physiology  2011;137(3):255-270.
The zebrafish is a potentially important and cost-effective model for studies of development, motility, regeneration, and inherited human diseases. The object of our work was to show whether myofibrils isolated from zebrafish striated muscle represent a valid subcellular contractile model. These organelles, which determine contractile function in muscle, were used in a fast kinetic mechanical technique based on an atomic force probe and video microscopy. Mechanical variables measured included rate constants of force development (kACT) after Ca2+ activation and of force decay (τREL−1) during relaxation upon Ca2+ removal, isometric force at maximal (Fmax) or partial Ca2+ activations, and force response to an external stretch applied to the relaxed myofibril (Fpass). Myotomal myofibrils from larvae developed greater active and passive forces, and contracted and relaxed faster than skeletal myofibrils from adult zebrafish, indicating developmental changes in the contractile organelles of the myotomal muscles. Compared with murine cardiac myofibrils, measurements of adult zebrafish ventricular myofibrils show that kACT, Fmax, Ca2+ sensitivity of the force, and Fpass were comparable and τREL−1 was smaller. These results suggest that cardiac myofibrils from zebrafish, like those from mice, are suitable contractile models to study cardiac function at the sarcomeric level. The results prove the practicability and usefulness of mechanical and kinetic investigations on myofibrils isolated from larval and adult zebrafish muscles. This novel approach for investigating myotomal and myocardial function in zebrafish at the subcellular level, combined with the powerful genetic manipulations that are possible in the zebrafish, will allow the investigation of the functional primary consequences of human disease–related mutations in sarcomeric proteins in the zebrafish model.
doi:10.1085/jgp.201010568
PMCID: PMC3047611  PMID: 21357732
6.  Compositional Differences between Infant and Adult Human Corneal Basement Membranes 
Purpose
Adult human corneal epithelial basement membrane (EBM) and Descemet's membrane (DM) components exhibit heterogeneous distribution. The purpose of the study was to identify changes of these components during postnatal corneal development.
Methods
Thirty healthy adult corneas and 10 corneas from 12-day- to 3-year-old children were studied by immunofluorescence with antibodies against BM components.
Results
Type IV collagen composition of infant corneal central EBM over Bowman's layer changed from α1-α2 to α3-α4 chains after 3 years of life; in the adult, α1-α2 chains were retained only in the limbal BM. Laminin α2 and β2 chains were present in the adult limbal BM where epithelial stem cells are located. By 3 years of age, β2 chain appeared in the limbal BM. In all corneas, limbal BM contained laminin γ3 chain. In the infant DM, type IV collagen α1-α6 chains, perlecan, nidogen-1, nidogen-2, and netrin-4 were found on both faces, but they remained only on the endothelial face of the adult DM. The stromal face of the infant but not the adult DM was positive for tenascin-C, fibrillin-1, SPARC, and laminin-332. Type VIII collagen shifted from the endothelial face of infant DM to its stromal face in the adult. Matrilin-4 largely disappeared after the age of 3 years.
Conclusions
The distribution of laminin γ3 chain, nidogen-2, netrin-4, matrilin-2, and matrilin-4 is described in the cornea for the first time. The observed differences between adult and infant corneal BMs may relate to changes in their mechanical strength, corneal cell adhesion and differentiation in the process of postnatal corneal maturation.
doi:10.1167/iovs.07-0654
PMCID: PMC2151758  PMID: 17962449
7.  Altered Integration of Matrilin-3 into Cartilage Extracellular Matrix in the Absence of Collagen IX 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(23):10465-10478.
The matrilins are a family of four noncollagenous oligomeric extracellular matrix proteins with a modular structure. Matrilins can act as adapters which bridge different macromolecular networks. We therefore investigated the effect of collagen IX deficiency on matrilin-3 integration into cartilage tissues. Mice harboring a deleted Col9a1 gene lack synthesis of a functional protein and produce cartilage fibrils completely devoid of collagen IX. Newborn collagen IX knockout mice exhibited significantly decreased matrilin-3 and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) signals, particularly in the cartilage primordium of vertebral bodies and ribs. In the absence of collagen IX, a substantial amount of matrilin-3 is released into the medium of cultured chondrocytes instead of being integrated into the cell layer as in wild-type and COMP-deficient cells. Gene expression of matrilin-3 is not affected in the absence of collagen IX, but protein extraction from cartilage is greatly facilitated. Matrilin-3 interacts with collagen IX-containing cartilage fibrils, while fibrils from collagen IX knockout mice lack matrilin-3, and COMP-deficient fibrils exhibit an intermediate integration. In summary, the integration of matrilin-3 into cartilage fibrils occurs both by a direct interaction with collagen IX and indirectly with COMP serving as an adapter. Matrilin-3 can be considered as an interface component, capable of interconnecting macromolecular networks and mediating interactions between cartilage fibrils and the extrafibrillar matrix.
doi:10.1128/MCB.25.23.10465-10478.2005
PMCID: PMC1291247  PMID: 16287859
8.  Matrilin-3 Is Dispensable for Mouse Skeletal Growth and Development 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(4):1691-1699.
Matrilin-3 belongs to the matrilin family of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and is primarily expressed in cartilage. Mutations in the gene encoding human matrilin-3 (MATN-3) lead to autosomal dominant skeletal disorders, such as multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (MED), which is characterized by short stature and early-onset osteoarthritis, and bilateral hereditary microepiphyseal dysplasia, a variant form of MED characterized by pain in the hip and knee joints. To assess the function of matrilin-3 during skeletal development, we have generated Matn-3 null mice. Homozygous mutant mice appear normal, are fertile, and show no obvious skeletal malformations. Histological and ultrastructural analyses reveal endochondral bone formation indistinguishable from that of wild-type animals. Northern blot, immunohistochemical, and biochemical analyses indicated no compensatory upregulation of any other member of the matrilin family. Altogether, our findings suggest functional redundancy among matrilins and demonstrate that the phenotypes of MED disorders are not caused by the absence of matrilin-3 in cartilage ECM.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.4.1691-1699.2004
PMCID: PMC344189  PMID: 14749384
9.  Epidermal Transglutaminase (TGase 3) Is the Autoantigen of Dermatitis Herpetiformis 
Gluten sensitivity typically presents as celiac disease, a common chronic small intestinal disorder. However, in certain individuals it is associated with dermatitis herpetiformis, a blistering skin disease characterized by granular IgA deposits in the papillary dermis. While tissue transglutaminase has been implicated as the major autoantigen of gluten sensitive disease, there has been no explanation as to why this condition appears in two distinct forms. Here we show that while sera from patients with either form of gluten sensitive disease react both with tissue transglutaminase and the related enzyme epidermal (type 3) transglutaminase, antibodies in patients having dermatitis herpetiformis show a markedly higher avidity for epidermal transglutaminase. Further, these patients have an antibody population specific for this enzyme. We also show that the IgA precipitates in the papillary dermis of patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, the defining signs of the disease, contain epidermal transglutaminase, but not tissue transglutaminase or keratinocyte transglutaminase. These findings demonstrate that epidermal transglutaminase, rather than tissue transglutaminase, is the dominant autoantigen in dermatitis herpetiformis and explain why skin symptoms appear in a proportion of patients having gluten sensitive disease.
doi:10.1084/jem.20011299
PMCID: PMC2193738  PMID: 11901200
gluten sensitive enteropathy; celiac disease; IgA; immune complex; skin
10.  Pseudoachondroplasia is caused through both intra- and extracellular pathogenic pathways 
Pseudoachondroplasia is a dominantly inherited chondrodysplasia associated with mutations in cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). Investigations into the pathogenesis of pseudoachondroplasia are hampered by its rarity. We developed a cell culture model by expressing mutant COMP in bovine primary chondrocytes using a gutless adenoviral vector. We show that mutant COMP exerts its deleterious effects through both intra- and extracellular pathogenic pathways. Overexpression of mutant COMP led to a dose-dependent decrease in cellular viability. The secretion of mutant COMP was markedly delayed, presumably due to a prolonged association with chaperones in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The ECM lacked organized collagen fibers and showed amorphous aggregates formed by mutant COMP. Thus, pseudoachondroplasia appears to be an ER storage disease, most likely caused by improper folding of mutant COMP. The growth failure of affected patients may be explained by an increased cell death of growth-plate chondrocytes. Dominant interference of the mutant protein on collagen fiber assembly could contribute to the observed failure of the ECM of cartilage and tendons.
doi:10.1172/JCI14386
PMCID: PMC150414  PMID: 12189245
11.  The Absence of Nidogen 1 Does Not Affect Murine Basement Membrane Formation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(18):7007-7012.
Nidogen 1 is a highly conserved protein in mammals, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, and ascidians and is found in all basement membranes. It has been proposed that nidogen 1 connects the laminin and collagen IV networks, so stabilizing the basement membrane, and integrates other proteins, including perlecan, into the basement membrane. To define the role of nidogen 1 in basement membranes in vivo, we produced a null mutation of the NID-1 gene in embryonic stem cells and used these to derive mouse lines. Homozygous animals produce neither nidogen 1 mRNA nor protein. Surprisingly, they show no overt abnormalities and are fertile, their basement membrane structures appearing normal. Nidogen 2 staining is increased in certain basement membranes, where it is normally only found in scant amounts. This occurs by either redistribution from other extracellular matrices or unmasking of nidogen 2 epitopes, as its production does not appear to be upregulated. The results show that nidogen 1 is not required for basement membrane formation or maintenance.
PMCID: PMC88775  PMID: 10958695
12.  Absence of Basement Membranes after Targeting the LAMC1 Gene Results in Embryonic Lethality Due to Failure of Endoderm Differentiation  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;144(1):151-160.
The LAMC1 gene coding for the laminin γ1 subunit was targeted by homologous recombination in mouse embryonic stem cells. Mice heterozygous for the mutation had a normal phenotype and were fertile, whereas homozygous mutant embryos did not survive beyond day 5.5 post coitum. These embryos lacked basement membranes and although the blastocysts had expanded, primitive endoderm cells remained in the inner cell mass, and the parietal yolk sac did not develop. Cultured embryonic stem cells appeared normal after targeting both LAMC1 genes, but the embryoid bodies derived from them also lacked basement membranes, having disorganized extracellular deposits of the basement membrane proteins collagen IV and perlecan, and the cells failed to differentiate into stable myotubes. Secretion of the linking protein nidogen and a truncated laminin α1 subunit did occur, but these were not deposited in the extracellular matrix. These results show that the laminin γ1 subunit is necessary for laminin assembly and that laminin is in turn essential for the organization of other basement membrane components in vivo and in vitro. Surprisingly, basement membranes are not necessary for the formation of the first epithelium to develop during embryogenesis, but first become required for extra embryonic endoderm differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2148127  PMID: 9885251
extracellular matrix; epithelium; embryogenesis; endoderm; laminin

Results 1-12 (12)