Mapping structural landmarks, ligand binding sites, and missense mutations to the collagen IV heterotrimers predicts major functional domains, novel interactions, and variation in phenotypes in inherited diseases affecting basement membranes

Hum Mutat. 2011 Feb;32(2):127-43. doi: 10.1002/humu.21401.


Collagen IV is the major protein found in basement membranes. It comprises three heterotrimers (α1α1α2, α3α4α5, and α5α5α6) that form distinct networks, and are responsible for membrane strength and integrity.We constructed linear maps of the collagen IV heterotrimers ("interactomes") that indicated major structural landmarks, known and predicted ligand-binding sites, and missense mutations, in order to identify functional and disease-associated domains, potential interactions between ligands, and genotype–phenotype relationships. The maps documented more than 30 known ligand-binding sites as well as motifs for integrins, heparin, von Willebrand factor (VWF), decorin, and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). They predicted functional domains for angiogenesis and haemostasis, and disease domains for autoimmunity, tumor growth and inhibition, infection, and glycation. Cooperative ligand interactions were indicated by binding site proximity, for example, between integrins, matrix metalloproteinases, and heparin. The maps indicated that mutations affecting major ligand-binding sites, for example, for Von Hippel Lindau (VHL) protein in the α1 chain or integrins in the α5 chain, resulted in distinctive phenotypes (Hereditary Angiopathy, Nephropathy, Aneurysms, and muscle Cramps [HANAC] syndrome, and early-onset Alport syndrome, respectively). These maps further our understanding of basement membrane biology and disease, and suggest novel membrane interactions, functions, and therapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Basement Membrane / metabolism*
  • Collagen Type IV / chemistry*
  • Collagen Type IV / genetics
  • Collagen Type IV / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Nephritis, Hereditary / metabolism
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Collagen Type IV
  • Ligands