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Supramolecular Structure of Polymorphic Collagen Fibrils

Romaine R. Bruns
The Journal of Cell Biology
Vol. 68, No. 3 (Mar., 1976), pp. 521-538
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1607737
Page Count: 18
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Supramolecular Structure of Polymorphic Collagen Fibrils
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Abstract

Reconstituted cartilage collagen fibrils with an oblique banding pattern or with two types of symmetrical patterns, and reconstituted rattail tendon fibrils with a third type of symmetrical pattern were examined by electron microscopy and found to consist of narrow subfibrils having native-type cross-striations. Analysis of the four types of patterns by a graphic method of specific band matching revealed the orientation and axial relation of individual subfibrils and their component molecules. In fibrils with an oblique pattern, subfibrils have the same orientation and a regular 100-Å axial displacement. Observations on staining characteristics, folded fibrils, and transverse sections of embedded fibrils suggest that the obliquely banded fibrils are ribbonlike or layered structures. In the three types of fibrils with a symmetrical pattern, adjacent subfibrils are oppositely oriented and aligned within a 119-Å segment of the 670-Å major period. Considered together, the observations suggest that interaction sites on the surface of subfibrils (and perhaps on the surface of native collagen fibrils) occur in various patterns that are manifested according to the nature of the environment during fibril formation, and that such patterns can be mapped on the surface of subfibrils by noting the arrangement of subfibrils in polymorphic forms.

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