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1.  Pulse-Chase Analysis of Procollagen Biosynthesis by Azidohomoalanine Labeling 
Connective tissue research  2014;55(0):403-410.
Disruptions in procollagen synthesis, trafficking and secretion by cells occur in multiple connective tissue diseases. Traditionally, these disruptions are studied by pulse-chase labeling with radioisotopes. However, significant DNA damage, excessive accumulation of reactive oxygen species and formation of other free radicals have been well documented in the literature at typical radioisotope concentrations used for pulse-chase experiments. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the resulting cell stress response might affect interpretation of the data, particularly with respect to abnormal function of procollagen-producing cells. Here, we describe an alternative method of pulse-chase procollagen labeling with azidohomoalanine, a noncanonical amino acid that replaces methionine in newly synthesized protein chains and can be detected via highly selective click chemistry reactions. At least in fibroblast culture, this approach is more efficient than traditional radioisotopes and has fewer, if any unintended effects on cell function. To illustrate its applications, we demonstrate delayed procollagen folding and secretion by cells from an osteogenesis imperfecta patient with a Cys substitution for Gly766 in the triple helical region of the α1(I) chain of type I procollagen.
PMCID: PMC4254658  PMID: 25159826
Azidohomoalanine; collagen; osteogenesis imperfecta; metabolic labeling; pulse-chase
2.  Kuskokwim syndrome, a recessive congenital contracture disorder, extends the phenotype of FKBP10 mutations 
Human mutation  2013;34(9):1279-1288.
Recessive mutations in FKBP10 at 17q21.2, encoding FKBP65, cause both osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) and Bruck syndrome (OI plus congenital contractures). Contractures are a variable manifestation of null/missense FKBP10 mutations. Kuskokwim syndrome (KS) is an autosomal recessive congenital contracture disorder found among Yup’ik Eskimos. Linkage mapping of KS to chromosome 17q21, together with contractures as a feature of FKBP10 mutations, made FKBP10 a candidate gene. We identified a homozygous 3-nucleotide deletion in FKBP10 (c.877_879delTAC) in multiple Kuskokwim pedigrees; 3% of regional controls are carriers. The mutation deletes the highly conserved p.Tyr293 residue in FKBP65’s 3rd PPIase domain. FKBP10 transcripts are normal, but mutant FKBP65 is destabilized to a residual 5%. Collagen synthesized by KS fibroblasts has substantially decreased hydroxylation of the telopeptide lysine crucial for collagen cross-linking, with 2–10% hydroxylation in probands vs 60% in controls. Matrix deposited by KS fibroblasts has marked reduction in maturely cross-linked collagen. KS collagen is disorganized in matrix, and fibrils formed in vitro had subtle loosening of monomer packing. Our results imply that FKBP10 mutations affect collagen indirectly, by ablating FKBP65 support for collagen telopeptide hydroxylation by LH2, thus decreasing collagen crosslinks in tendon and bone matrix. FKBP10 mutations may also underlie other arthrogryposis syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3770534  PMID: 23712425
osteogenesis imperfecta; contractures; FKBP65; FKBP10; Bruck syndrome
3.  Collagen degradation by tumor-associated trypsins 
In normal soft tissues, collagen is degraded primarily by collagenases from the matrix metalloproteinase family. Yet, collagenase-like activity of tumor-associated isoforms of other enzymes might be involved in cancer invasion as well. In the present study, we systematically examined collagen degradation by non-sulfated isoforms of trypsins, which were proposed to possess such an activity. We found that non-sulfated trypsin-1, -2, and -3 were able to cleave non-helical and unfolded regions of collagen chains but not the intact triple helix, similar to sulfated trypsins produced by the pancreas. Trypsin-2 sulfation did not affect the cleavage rate either. An apparent triple helix cleavage by tumor-associated trypsin-2 reported earlier likely occurred after triple helix unfolding during sample denaturation for gel electrophoresis. Nevertheless, tumor-associated trypsins might be important for releasing collagen from fibers through telopeptide cleavage as well as for degrading unfolded collagen chains, e.g. after initial cleavage and destabilization of triple helices by collagenases.
PMCID: PMC3683366  PMID: 23541862
Collagen degradation; collagenolysis; trypsin; tumor-associated trypsin; matrix metalloproteinases
4.  Abnormal Type I Collagen Post-translational Modification and Crosslinking in a Cyclophilin B KO Mouse Model of Recessive Osteogenesis Imperfecta 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(6):e1004465.
Cyclophilin B (CyPB), encoded by PPIB, is an ER-resident peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase (PPIase) that functions independently and as a component of the collagen prolyl 3-hydroxylation complex. CyPB is proposed to be the major PPIase catalyzing the rate-limiting step in collagen folding. Mutations in PPIB cause recessively inherited osteogenesis imperfecta type IX, a moderately severe to lethal bone dysplasia. To investigate the role of CyPB in collagen folding and post-translational modifications, we generated Ppib−/− mice that recapitulate the OI phenotype. Knock-out (KO) mice are small, with reduced femoral areal bone mineral density (aBMD), bone volume per total volume (BV/TV) and mechanical properties, as well as increased femoral brittleness. Ppib transcripts are absent in skin, fibroblasts, femora and calvarial osteoblasts, and CyPB is absent from KO osteoblasts and fibroblasts on western blots. Only residual (2–11%) collagen prolyl 3-hydroxylation is detectable in KO cells and tissues. Collagen folds more slowly in the absence of CyPB, supporting its rate-limiting role in folding. However, treatment of KO cells with cyclosporine A causes further delay in folding, indicating the potential existence of another collagen PPIase. We confirmed and extended the reported role of CyPB in supporting collagen lysyl hydroxylase (LH1) activity. Ppib−/− fibroblast and osteoblast collagen has normal total lysyl hydroxylation, while increased collagen diglycosylation is observed. Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) analysis of bone and osteoblast type I collagen revealed site-specific alterations of helical lysine hydroxylation, in particular, significantly reduced hydroxylation of helical crosslinking residue K87. Consequently, underhydroxylated forms of di- and trivalent crosslinks are strikingly increased in KO bone, leading to increased total crosslinks and decreased helical hydroxylysine- to lysine-derived crosslink ratios. The altered crosslink pattern was associated with decreased collagen deposition into matrix in culture, altered fibril structure in tissue, and reduced bone strength. These studies demonstrate novel consequences of the indirect regulatory effect of CyPB on collagen hydroxylation, impacting collagen glycosylation, crosslinking and fibrillogenesis, which contribute to maintaining bone mechanical properties.
Author Summary
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), or brittle bone disease, is characterized by susceptibility to fractures from minimal trauma and growth deficiency. Deficiency of components of the collagen prolyl 3-hydroxylation complex, CRTAP, P3H1 and CyPB, cause recessive types VII, VIII and IX OI, respectively. We have previously shown that mutual protection within the endoplasmic reticulum accounts for the overlapping severe phenotype of patients with CRTAP and P3H1 mutations. However, the bone dysplasia in patients with CyPB deficiency is distinct in terms of phenotype and type I collagen biochemistry. Using a knock-out mouse model of type IX OI, we have demonstrated that CyPB is the major, although not unique, peptidyl prolyl cis-trans isomerase that catalyzes the rate-limiting step in collagen folding. CyPB is also required for activity of the collagen prolyl 3-hydroxylation complex; collagen α1(I) P986 modification is lost in the absence of CyPB. Unexpectedly, CyPB was found to also influence collagen helical lysyl hydroxylation in a tissue-, cell- and residue-specific manner. Thus CyPB facilitates collagen folding directly, but also indirectly regulates collagen hydroxylation, glycosylation, crosslinking and fibrillogenesis through its interactions with other collagen modifying enzymes in the endoplasmic reticulum.
PMCID: PMC4072593  PMID: 24968150
5.  Absence of FKBP10 in Recessive Type XI Osteogenesis Imperfecta Leads to Diminished Collagen Cross-Linking and Reduced Collagen Deposition in Extracellular Matrix 
Human mutation  2012;33(11):1589-1598.
Recessive osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is caused by defects in genes whose products interact with type I collagen for modification and/or folding. We identified a Palestinian pedigree with moderate and lethal forms of recessive OI caused by mutations in FKBP10 or PPIB, which encode endoplasmic reticulum resident chaperone/isomerases FKBP65 and CyPB, respectively. In one pedigree branch, both parents carry a deletion in PPIB (c.563_566delACAG), causing lethal type IX OI in their two children. In another branch, a child with moderate type XI OI has a homozygous FKBP10 mutation (c.1271_1272delCCinsA). Proband FKBP10 transcripts are 4% of control and FKBP65 protein is absent from proband cells. Proband collagen electrophoresis reveals slight band broadening, compatible with ≈10% overmodification. Normal chain incorporation, helix folding, and collagen Tm support a minimal general collagen chaperone role for FKBP65. However, there is a dramatic decrease in collagen deposited in culture despite normal collagen secretion. Mass spectrometry reveals absence of hydroxylation of the collagen telopeptide lysine involved in cross-linking, suggesting that FKBP65 is required for lysyl hydroxylase activity or access to type I collagen telopeptide lysines, perhaps through its function as a peptidylprolyl isomerase. Proband collagen to organics ratio in matrix is approximately 30% of normal in Raman spectra. Immunofluorescence shows sparse, disorganized collagen fibrils in proband matrix.
PMCID: PMC3470738  PMID: 22718341
osteogenesis imperfecta; Bruck syndrome; FKBP65; FKBP10; PPIB; peptidylprolyl isomerase
6.  Deficient degradation of homotrimeric type I collagen,α1(I)3 glomerulopathy in oim mice 
Molecular genetics and metabolism  2011;104(3):373-382.
Col1a2-deficient (oim) mice synthesize homotrimeric type I collagen due to nonfunctional proα2(I) collagen chains. Our previous studies revealed a postnatal, progressive type I collagen glomerulopathy in this mouse model, but the mechanism of the sclerotic collagen accumulation within the renal mesangium remains unclear. The recent demonstration of the resistance of homotrimeric type I collagen to cleavage by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), led us to investigate the role of MMP-resistance in the glomerulosclerosis of Col1a2-deficient mice. We measured the pre- and post-translational expression of type I collagen and MMPs in glomeruli from heterozygous and homozygous animals. Both the heterotrimeric and homotrimeric isotypes of type I collagen were equally present in whole kidneys of heterozygous mice by immunohistochemistry and biochemical analysis, but the sclerotic glomerular collagen was at least 95–98% homotrimeric, suggesting homotrimeric type I collagen is the pathogenic isotype of type I collagen in glomerular disease. Although steady-state MMP and Col1a1 mRNA levels increased with the disease progression, we found these changes to be a secondary response to the deficient clearance of MMP-resistant homotrimers. Increased renal MMP expression was not sufficient to prevent homotrimeric type I collagen accumulation.
PMCID: PMC3205245  PMID: 21855382
collagen; extracellular matrix; glomerular sclerosis; fibrosis; matrix metalloproteinase
7.  COL1 C-propeptide Cleavage Site Mutations Cause High Bone Mass Osteogenesis Imperfecta 
Human mutation  2011;32(6):598-609.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is most often caused by mutations in the type I procollagen genes (COL1A1/COL1A2). We identified two children with substitutions in the type I procollagen C-propeptide cleavage site, which disrupt a unique processing step in collagen maturation and define a novel phenotype within OI. The patients have mild OI caused by mutations in COL1A1 (Patient 1: p.Asp1219Asn) or COL1A2 (Patient 2: p.Ala1119Thr), respectively. Patient 1 L1-L4 DXA z-score was +3.9 and pQCT vBMD was +3.1; Patient 2 had L1-L4 DXA z-score of 0.0 and pQCT vBMD of −1.8. Patient BMD contrasts with radiographic osteopenia and histomorphometry without osteosclerosis. Mutant procollagen processing is impaired in pericellular and in vitro assays. Patient dermal collagen fibrils have irregular borders. Incorporation of pC-collagen into matrix leads to increased bone mineralization. FT-IR imaging confirms elevated mineral/matrix ratios in both patients, along with increased collagen maturation in trabecular bone, compared to normal or OI controls. Bone mineralization density distribution revealed a marked shift toward increased mineralization density for both patients. Patient 1 has areas of higher and lower bone mineralization than controls; Patient 2’s bone matrix has a mineral content exceeding even classical OI bone. These patients define a new phenotype of high BMD OI and demonstrate that procollagen C-propeptide cleavage is crucial to normal bone mineralization.
PMCID: PMC3103631  PMID: 21344539
Osteogenesis imperfecta; C-propeptide; collagen; C-proteinase; mineralization; high bone mass
8.  Chaperoning osteogenesis: new protein-folding-disease paradigms 
Trends in cell biology  2010;21(3):168-176.
Recent discoveries of severe bone disorders in patients with deficiencies in several endoplasmic reticulum chaperones are reshaping the discussion of type I collagen folding and related diseases. Type I collagen is the most abundant protein in all vertebrates and a crucial structural molecule for bone and other connective tissues. Its misfolding causes bone fragility, skeletal deformities and other tissue failures. Studies of newly discovered bone disorders indicate that collagen folding, chaperones involved in the folding process, cellular responses to misfolding, and related bone pathologies may not follow conventional protein folding paradigms. In this review, we examine the features that distinguish collagen folding from that of other proteins and describe findings that are beginning to reveal how cells manage collagen folding and misfolding. We discuss implications of these studies on general protein folding paradigms, unfolded protein response in cells and protein folding diseases.
PMCID: PMC3057343  PMID: 21183349
9.  Lack of Cyclophilin B in Osteogenesis Imperfecta with Normal Collagen Folding 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;362(6):521-528.
Osteogenesis imperfecta is a heritable disorder that causes bone fragility. Mutations in type I collagen result in autosomal dominant osteogenesis imperfecta, whereas mutations in either of two components of the collagen prolyl 3-hydroxylation complex (cartilage-associated protein [CRTAP] and prolyl 3-hydroxylase 1 [P3H1]) cause autosomal recessive osteogenesis imperfecta with rhizomelia (shortening of proximal segments of upper and lower limbs) and delayed collagen folding. We identified two siblings who had recessive osteogenesis imperfecta without rhizomelia. They had a homozygous start-codon mutation in the peptidyl-prolyl isomerase B gene (PPIB), which results in a lack of cyclophilin B (CyPB), the third component of the complex. The proband’s collagen had normal collagen folding and normal prolyl 3-hydroxylation, suggesting that CyPB is not the exclusive peptidyl-prolyl cis–trans isomerase that catalyzes the rate-limiting step in collagen folding, as is currently thought.
PMCID: PMC3156560  PMID: 20089953
10.  Carcinomas contain an MMP-resistant isoform of type I collagen exerting selective support to invasion 
Cancer research  2010;70(11):4366-4374.
Collagen fibers affect metastasis in two opposing ways, by supporting invasive cells but also generating a barrier to invasion. We hypothesized that these functions might be performed by different isoforms of type I collagen. Carcinomas are reported to contain α1(I)3 homotrimers, a type I collagen isoform normally not present in healthy tissues, but the role of the homotrimers in cancer pathophysiology is unclear. In this study, we found that these homotrimers were resistant to all collagenolytic matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs are massively produced and utilized by cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts for degrading stromal collagen at the leading edge of tumor invasion. The MMP-resistant homotrimers were produced by all invasive cancer cell lines tested, both in culture and in tumor xenografts, but they were not produced by cancer-associated fibroblasts, thereby comprising a specialized fraction of tumor collagen. We observed the homotrimer fibers to be resistant to pericellular degradation, even upon stimulation of the cells with pro-inflammatory cytokines. Further, we confirmed an enhanced proliferation and migration of invasive cancer cells on the surface of homotrimeric vs. normal (heterotrimeric) type I collagen fibers. In summary, our findings suggest that invasive cancer cells may utilize homotrimers for building MMP-resistant invasion paths, supporting local proliferation and directed migration of the cells while surrounding normal stromal collagen is cleaved. Because the homotrimers are universally secreted by cancer cells and deposited as insoluble, MMP-resistant fibers, they offer an appealing target for cancer diagnostics and therapy.
PMCID: PMC2880213  PMID: 20460529
collagen homotrimers; MMP; collagen degradation; cell-matrix interactions; collagenases
11.  Variable Bone Fragility Associated With an Amish COL1A2 Variant and a Knock-in Mouse Model 
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a heritable form of bone fragility typically associated with a dominant COL1A1 or COL1A2 mutation. Variable phenotype for OI patients with identical collagen mutations is well established, but phenotype variability is described using the qualitative Sillence classification. Patterning a new OI mouse model on a specific collagen mutation therefore has been hindered by the absence of an appropriate kindred with extensive quantitative phenotype data. We benefited from the large sibships of the Old Order Amish (OOA) to define a wide range of OI phenotypes in 64 individuals with the identical COL1A2 mutation. Stratification of carrier spine (L1–4) areal bone mineral density (aBMD) Z-scores demonstrated that 73% had moderate to severe disease (less than −2), 23% had mild disease (−1 to −2), and 4% were in the unaffected range (greater than −1). A line of knock-in mice was patterned on the OOA mutation. Bone phenotype was evaluated in four F1 lines of knock-in mice that each shared approximately 50% of their genetic background. Consistent with the human pedigree, these mice had reduced body mass, aBMD, and bone strength. Whole-bone fracture susceptibility was influenced by individual genomic factors that were reflected in size, shape, and possibly bone metabolic regulation. The results indicate that the G610C OI (Amish) knock-in mouse is a novel translational model to identify modifying genes that influence phenotype and for testing potential therapies for OI. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
PMCID: PMC3153383  PMID: 19594296
osteogenesis imperfecta; bone; collagen; knock-in; rodent
12.  Molecular Mechanism of Type I Collagen Homotrimer Resistance to Mammalian Collagenases* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(29):22276-22281.
Type I collagen cleavage is crucial for tissue remodeling, but its homotrimeric isoform is resistant to all collagenases. The homotrimers occur in fetal tissues, fibrosis, and cancer, where their collagenase resistance may play an important physiological role. To understand the mechanism of this resistance, we studied interactions of α1(I)3 homotrimers and normal α1(I)2α2(I) heterotrimers with fibroblast collagenase (MMP-1). Similar MMP-1 binding to the two isoforms and similar cleavage efficiency of unwound α1(I) and α2(I) chains suggested increased stability and less efficient unwinding of the homotrimer triple helix at the collagenase cleavage site. The unwinding, necessary for placing individual chains inside the catalytic cleft of the enzyme, was the rate-limiting cleavage step for both collagen isoforms. Comparative analysis of the homo- and heterotrimer cleavage kinetics revealed that MMP-1 binding promotes stochastic helix unwinding, resolving the controversy between different models of collagenase action.
PMCID: PMC2903388  PMID: 20463013
Collagen; Enzyme Kinetics; Extracellular Matrix; Metalloprotease; Protein Degradation; Collagen Homotrimer; Matrix Metalloproteinase; Tissue Remodeling
13.  Segregation of type I collagen homo- and heterotrimers in fibrils 
Journal of molecular biology  2008;383(1):122-132.
Normal type I collagen is a heterotrimer of two α1(I) and one α2(I) chains, but various genetic and environmental factors result in synthesis of homotrimers which consist of three α1(I) chains. The homotrimers completely replace the heterotrimers only in rare recessive disorders. In the general population, they may comprise just a small fraction of type I collagen. Nevertheless, they may play a significant role in pathology, e.g., synthesis of 10-15% homotrimers due to a polymorphism in the α1(I) gene may contribute to osteoporosis. Homotrimer triple helices have different stability and less efficient fibrillogenesis than heterotrimers. Their fibrils have different mechanical properties. However, very little is known about their molecular interactions and fibrillogenesis in mixtures with normal heterotrimers. Here we studied the kinetics and thermodynamics of fibril formation in such mixtures by combining traditional approaches with 3D confocal imaging of fibrils, in which homo- and heterotrimers were labeled by different fluorescent colors. Following a temperature jump from 4 to 32 °C, in a mixture we first observed rapid formation of homotrimer aggregates. The aggregates promoted nucleation of homotrimer fibrils which served as seeds for mixed and heterotrimer fibrils. The separation of colors in confocal images indicated segregation of homo- and heterotrimers at a subfibrillar level throughout the process. The fibril color patterns continued to change slowly after the fibrillogenesis appeared to be complete, due to dissociation and reassociation of the pepsin-treated homo- and heterotrimers, but this remixing did not significantly reduce the segregation even after several days. Independent homo- and heterotrimer solubility measurements in mixtures confirmed that the subfibrillar segregation was an equilibrium property of intermolecular interactions and not just a kinetic phenomenon. We argue that the subfibrillar segregation may exacerbate effects of a small fraction of α1(I) homotrimers on formation, properties, and remodeling of collagen fibers.
PMCID: PMC2839200  PMID: 18721810
collagen; type I homotrimer; fibrillogenesis; segregation; osteoporosis; Osteogenesis Imperfecta
14.  Helical coherence of DNA in crystals and solution 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(17):5540-5551.
The twist, rise, slide, shift, tilt and roll between adjoining base pairs in DNA depend on the identity of the bases. The resulting dependence of the double helix conformation on the nucleotide sequence is important for DNA recognition by proteins, packaging and maintenance of genetic material, and other interactions involving DNA. This dependence, however, is obscured by poorly understood variations in the stacking geometry of the same adjoining base pairs within different sequence contexts. In this article, we approach the problem of sequence-dependent DNA conformation by statistical analysis of X-ray and NMR structures of DNA oligomers. We evaluate the corresponding helical coherence length—a cumulative parameter quantifying sequence-dependent deviations from the ideal double helix geometry. We find, e.g. that the solution structure of synthetic oligomers is characterized by 100–200 Å coherence length, which is similar to ∼150 Å coherence length of natural, salmon-sperm DNA. Packing of oligomers in crystals dramatically alters their helical coherence. The coherence length increases to 800–1200 Å, consistent with its theoretically predicted role in interactions between DNA at close separations.
PMCID: PMC2553576  PMID: 18755709
15.  Procollagen Triple Helix Assembly: An Unconventional Chaperone-Assisted Folding Paradigm 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(10):e1029.
Fibers composed of type I collagen triple helices form the organic scaffold of bone and many other tissues, yet the energetically preferred conformation of type I collagen at body temperature is a random coil. In fibers, the triple helix is stabilized by neighbors, but how does it fold? The observations reported here reveal surprising features that may represent a new paradigm for folding of marginally stable proteins. We find that human procollagen triple helix spontaneously folds into its native conformation at 30–34°C but not at higher temperatures, even in an environment emulating Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER). ER-like molecular crowding by nonspecific proteins does not affect triple helix folding or aggregation of unfolded chains. Common ER chaperones may prevent aggregation and misfolding of procollagen C-propeptide in their traditional role of binding unfolded polypeptide chains. However, such binding only further destabilizes the triple helix. We argue that folding of the triple helix requires stabilization by preferential binding of chaperones to its folded, native conformation. Based on the triple helix folding temperature measured here and published binding constants, we deduce that HSP47 is likely to do just that. It takes over 20 HSP47 molecules to stabilize a single triple helix at body temperature. The required 50–200 µM concentration of free HSP47 is not unusual for heat-shock chaperones in ER, but it is 100 times higher than used in reported in vitro experiments, which did not reveal such stabilization.
PMCID: PMC2000351  PMID: 17925877

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