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• hydroxyproline
The hydroxylation of prolyl and lysyl side chains in procollagen requires ascorbic acid (vitamin C). As
a result patients with vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) form a collagen with insufficient hydroxyproline
that denatures spontaneously at room temperature. Prolonged deficiency of vitamin C causes
scurvy (i.e. gingival inflammation and bleeding gums, dry mouth and eyes, bruising, fatigue).
Collagen accounts for approximately 25% of the body protein in adults and 15% to 20% in children.
It is most abundant in strong, tough connective tissues. Type I collagen is by far the most abundant
collagen in the body. It has a most unusual amino acid composition, with 33% glycine and 10%
proline. It also contains hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine.
The basic structural unit of collagen fibrils, the tropocollagen molecule, consists of three
intertwined polypeptides. In the case of type I collagen, it has a very unusual amino acid sequence,
with glycine in every third position. Tropocollagen is the longest known protein and is formed from
procollagen, which is secreted by fibroblasts. The three helical polypeptides of the tropocollagen
molecule are wound around each other in a right-handed triple helix. Note: The long, ropelike
tropocollagen molecules form fibrils by aligning themselves in parallel. Once secreted outside the
cell tropocollagen units are crosslinked through covalent bonding between adjacent lysine
residues to produce mature collagen.
Remember: Vitamin C influences the formation of collagen, which is the organic matrix found in
dentin and cementum (see note #1 below).
1. Hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are nonstandard amino acids that are present in
Notes few other proteins. For this reason, their concentration in a particular tissue is a good
estimate of the collagen content as well. They are not used directly in the reactions of
protein synthesis. These amino acids are formed by the hydroxylation of proline and
lysine (by lysyl hydroxylase). This hydroxylation involves α-keto-glutarate, oxygen, Fe2+
and vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is required because it restores iron to its reduced
state (Fe2+).
2. Collagen and reticular fibers make up the stroma of all lymphoid tissues except
the thymus.