Synthesis of recombinant human procollagen II in a stably transfected tumour cell line (HT1080).

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Apparently because the biosynthetic pathways involve eight or more highly specific post-translational enzymes, it has been difficult to obtain expression of genes for fibrillar collagens in recombinant systems. Here two constructs of the human gene for procollagen II (COL2A1) were prepared, one with about 0.5 kb of a promoter for a procollagen I gene (COL1A1) and the other with about 4 kb of the promoter for the procollagen II gene. The constructs, together with a neomycin-resistant gene, were transfected into a human tumour cell line (HT1080) that synthesizes the collagen IV found in basement membranes, but does not synthesize any fibrillar collagen. About two per 100 clones resistant to the neomycin analogue G418 synthesized and secreted human procollagen II. Milligram quantities of the recombinant procollagen II were readily isolated from the cultured medium. The recombinant procollagen II had the expected amino acid sequence as defined by nucleotide sequencing of mRNA-derived cDNA and the expected amino acid composition as defined by analysis of procollagen II that was converted into collagen II by digestion with procollagen N- and C-proteinases. Also, analysis of the carbohydrate content indicated that there was glycosylation of some of the hydroxylysine residues but no evidence of post-translational overmodification of the residues. In addition, the protein was shown to have a native conformation as assayed by a series of protease digestions. No essential differences were found between clones transfected with the COL2A1 gene construct containing the COL1A1 promoter and the similar construct containing the COL2A1 promoter in terms of number of clones synthesizing recombinant procollagen II and the levels of expression. With both constructs, the expression of the COL2A1 gene was closely related to copy number. The results demonstrated therefore that it is not essential to use a promoter for a gene normally expressed in a host cell in order to obtain gene copy-number-dependent expression of an exogenous collagen gene in stably transfected cells.


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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

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