Nonenzymatic glycation of collagen has long been associated with the progressive secondary complications of diabetes. How exactly such random glycations result in impaired tissues is still poorly understood. Because of the slow turnover rate of most fibrillar collagens, they are more susceptible to accumulate time-dependent glycations and subsequent advanced glycation end-products. The latter are believed to include cross-links that stiffen host tissues. However, diabetic animal models have also displayed weakened tendons with reduced stiffness. Strikingly, not a single experimentally identified specific molecular site of glycation in a collagen has been reported. Here, using targeted MS, we have identified partial fructosyl-hydroxylysine glycations at each of the helical domain cross-linking sites of type I collagen that are elevated in tissues from a diabetic mouse model. Glycation was not found at any other collagen lysine residues. Type I collagen in mouse tendons is cross-linked intermolecularly by acid-labile aldimine bonds formed by the addition of telopeptide lysine aldehydes to hydroxylysine residues at positions α1(I)Lys87, α1(I)Lys930, α2(I)Lys87, and α2(I)Lys933 of the triple helix. Our data reveal that site-specific glycations of these specific lysines may significantly impair normal lysyl oxidase-controlled cross-linking in diabetic tendons. We propose that such N-linked glycations can hinder the normal cross-linking process, thus altering the content and/or placement of mature cross-links with the potential to modify tissue material properties.
Keywords: collagen; diabetes; extracellular matrix; glycation; mass spectrometry (MS); post-translational modification (PTM); tendon.
© 2018 Hudson et al.