Self-assembly into fibrils of collagen II by enzymic cleavage of recombinant procollagen II. Lag period, critical concentration, and morphology of fibrils differ from collagen I. Academic Article uri icon


  • A recently developed recombinant system for synthesis of human procollagen II by stably transfected host cells was used to prepare adequate amounts of protein to study the self-assembly of collagen II into fibrils. The procollagen II was cleaved to pCcollagen II by procollagen N-proteinase (EC, the pCcollagen II was chromatographically purified, and the pCcollagen II was then used as a substrate to generate collagen II fibrils by cleavage with procollagen C-proteinase. The kinetics for assembly of collagen II fibrils were similar to those observed previously for the self-assembly of collagen I in that a distinct lag phase was observed followed by a sigmoidal propagation phase. However, under the same experimental conditions, the lag time for assembly of collagen II fibrils was 5-6-fold longer, and the propagation rate for collagen II fibrils was about 30-fold lower than for collagen I fibrils. The relatively long lag time for the assembly of collagen II into fibrils made it possible to demonstrate that most of the conversion of pCcollagen II to collagen II occurred in the solution phase. The critical concentration at 37 degrees C for collagen II was about 50-fold greater than the critical concentration for collagen I. The Gibbs free energy change for the assembly of collagen II into fibrils was -40 kJ/mol, a value that was about 14 kJ/mol less than the free energy change for collagen I and about the same as the free energy change for the homotrimer of collagen I. Dark-field light microscopy and negative-staining electron microscopy demonstrated that the collagen II fibrils were thin and formed network-like structures. The results demonstrated, therefore, that the structural information of the monomer is sufficient to explain the characteristically small diameters and arcade-like geometry of collagen II fibrils found in cartilage and other tissues.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Fertala, A., Sieron, A. L., Hojima, Y., Ganguly, A., & Prockop, D. J

citation count

  • 41

complete list of authors

  • Fertala, A||Sieron, AL||Hojima, Y||Ganguly, A||Prockop, DJ

publication date

  • April 1994