Turbidimetric and morphological studies of type I collagen fibre self assembly in vitro and the influence of fibronectin

Jane L. Brokaw, Charles J. Doillon, Rita A. Hahn, David E. Birk, Richard A. Berg, Frederick H.Silver

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Collagen undergoes several stages of self assembly including turbidimetric lag, growth and plateau steps. The later stages of type I collagen self assembly were studied by turbidity-time measurements, low angle laser light scattering and by determination of the birefringence retardation of collagen fibres formed in vitro. These studies were conducted in the presence and absence of fibronectin to evaluate the effect of fibronectin on the kinetics and extent of type I collagen fibrillogenesis. The results of these studies indicate that the collagen fibres observed at the end of the lag phase appear to be identical to fibres seen in the growth phase of turbidity-time curves based on fibre diameter and birefringence retardation measurements. Birefringence retardation measurements suggest that the diffracting unit may be the collagen fibril and that the volume fraction of fibrils in fibres is about 0.95 using a model developed for a series of parallel ellipsoids. Morphological observations suggest that the distribution of fibre diameters formed in vitro during the growth phase is narrow and appears to be independent of time with only the mass of collagen in fibres increasing during the growth phase. During the growth phase, layers of parallel fibres are formed with alternating layers appearing almost orthogonal. In the presence of fibronectin the mechanism of fibre formation appeared unchanged. It was concluded that fibronectin appeared to modify the kinetics of self assembly by preventing collisions between collagen molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-140
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Energy(all)


  • Proteins
  • birefringence
  • collagen type I
  • fibronectin
  • laser light scattering
  • turbidity-time measurements

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