University of Oulu

Assembly and secretion of recombinant human collagens and gelatins in the yeast Pichia pastoris, and generation and analysis of knock-out mice for collagen prolyl 4-hydroxylase type I

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Author: Pakkanen, Outi1,2,3
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2University of Oulu, Collagen Research Unit
3University of Oulu, Biocenter Oulu
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2006
Publish Date: 2006-05-23
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Auditorium F101 of the Department of Physiology (Aapistie 7), on June 2nd, 2006, at 1 p.m.
Reviewer: Doctor Frits de Wolf
Docent Jarmo Käpylä


Collagen molecules consist of three polypeptide chains that are coiled around each other to form a triple-helical structure. The formation of stable collagen triple helices requires the hydroxylation of proline residues catalyzed by collagen prolyl 4-hydroxylases (C-P4H). Vertebrate C-P4H is an ER-resident enzyme that consists of two catalytically active α subunits and two β subunits. Production of recombinant human collagen and gelatin could have numerous medical and industrial applications, but most recombinant systems lack the C-P4H activity. The yeast Pichia pastoris has been successfully engineered to produce stable human collagens and gelatins by co-expression of the collagen polypeptide chains with the two C-P4H subunits.

This study examined the effect of deletion of the C-propeptide, or its replacement by a trimerizing foldon domain, on the assembly of type I and III collagen triple helices in P. pastoris. It was observed that the absence of the C-propeptide leads to inefficient collagen chain assembly whereas the replacement of C-propeptide with a foldon domain increased the assembly up to 3-fold. Moreover, the co-expression of α1(I) and α2(I) chains fused with foldon yielded heterotrimeric type I collagen molecules with a typical chain ratio of 2:1. As the foldon domain contains no information for collagen chain recognition, the present data indicate that the chain assembly is defined not only by the C-propeptides but also by other determinants present in the α chains.

Another aspect studied here was the expression and secretion of gelatin fragments of varying size and conformation in P. pastoris. It was discovered that gelatin fragment size affects its secretion as the 90 kDa fragment was less efficiently secreted than the 45 kDa fragment. Secretion was also dependent on the fragment conformation as induction of the triple helix formation by either C-propeptide or foldon led to the accumulation of the fragments inside the yeast cells despite the presence of an efficient secretory signal.

C-P4H was long assumed to exist as one type only but the cloning of several C-P4H α subunits raised questions concerning the specific roles of the C-P4H isoenzymes. The generation of mice lacking the type I C-P4H, which is regarded as the major C-P4H isoenzyme, indicated that this isoenzyme is essential for the embryonic development of the mouse. The embryos lacking type I C-P4H died at an early stage of their development due to the disruption of basement membranes. It was found that the basement membranes of the homozygous null embryos lacked type IV collagen whereas the fibrillar collagens were synthesized, although with altered morphology. The data reported here also demonstrate that the other C-P4H isoenzymes cannot compensate for the lack of type I isoenzyme.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-8104-7
ISBN Print: 951-42-8103-9
Issue: 879
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2006. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.