Type I collagen is the most abundant protein in humans, and it helps to maintain the integrity of many tissues via its interactions with cell surfaces, other extracellular matrix molecules, and growth and differentiation factors. Nearly 50 molecules have been found to interact with type I collagen, and for about half of them, binding sites on this collagen have been elucidated. In addition, over 300 mutations in type I collagen associated with human connective tissue disorders have been described. However, the spatial relationships between the known ligand-binding sites and mutation positions have not been examined. To this end, here we have created a map of type I collagen that includes all of its ligand-binding sites and mutations. The map reveals the existence of several hot spots for ligand interactions on type I collagen and that most of the binding sites locate to its C-terminal half. Moreover, on the collagen fibril some potentially relevant relationships between binding sites were observed including the following: fibronectin- and certain integrin-binding regions are near neighbors, which may mechanistically relate to fibronectin-dependent cell-collagen attachment; proteoglycan binding may potentially impact upon collagen fibrillogenesis, cell-collagen attachment, and collagen glycation seen in diabetes and aging; and mutations associated with osteogenesis imperfecta and other disorders show apparently nonrandom distribution patterns within both the monomer and fibril, implying that mutation positions correlate with disease phenotype. These and other observations presented here may provide novel insights into evaluating type I collagen functions and the relationships between its binding partners and mutations.
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