Molecular alteration in type I collagen, i.e., substituting the α2 chain with α1 chain in tropocollagen molecule, can cause osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a brittle bone disease, which can be represented by a mouse model (oim/oim). In this work, we use dual-frequency Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and incorporated with molecular modeling to quantify the ultrastructure and stiffness of the individual native collagen fibers from wildtype (+/+) and oim/oim diseased mice humeri. Our work presents direct experimental evidences that the +/+ fibers have highly organized and compact ultrastructure and corresponding ordered stiffness distribution. In contrast, oim/oim fibers have ordered but loosely packed ultrastructure with uncorrelated stiffness distribution, as well as local defects. The molecular model also demonstrates the structural and molecular packing differences between +/+ and oim/oim collagens. The molecular mutation significantly altered sub-fibril structure and mechanical property of collagen fibers. This study can give the new insight for the mechanisms and treatment of the brittle bone disease.
Keywords: Bone; Collagen; Dual-frequency AFM; Oim; Stiffness.
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