Insights Into the Biophysical Forces Between Proteins Involved in Elastic Fiber Assembly

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Journal of Materials Chemistry B


© The Royal Society of Chemistry. Elastogenesis is a complex process beginning with transcription, translation, and extracellular release of precursor proteins leading to crosslinking, deposition, and assembly of ubiquitous elastic fibers. While the biochemical pathways by which elastic fibers are assembled are known, the biophysical forces mediating the interactions between the constituent proteins are unknown. Using atomic force microscopy, we quantified the adhesive forces among the elastic fiber components, primarily between tropoelastin, elastin binding protein (EBP), fibrillin-1, fibulin-5, and lysyl oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2). The adhesive forces between tropoelastin and other tissue-derived proteins such as insoluble elastin, laminin, and type I collagens were also assessed. The adhesive forces between tropoelastin and laminin were strong (1767 ± 126 pN; p < 10-5vs. all others), followed by forces (≥200 pN) between tropoelastin and human collagen, mature elastin, or tropoelastin. The adhesive forces between tropoelastin and rat collagen, EBP, fibrillin-1, fibulin-5, and LOXL2 coated on fibrillin-1 were in the range of 100-200 pN. The forces between tropoelastin and LOXL2, LOXL2 and fibrillin-1, LOXL2 and fibulin-5, and fibrillin-1 and fibulin-5 were less than 100 pN. Introducing LOXL2 decreased the adhesive forces between the tropoelastin monomers by ∼100 pN. The retraction phase of force-deflection curves was fitted to the worm-like chain model to calculate the rigidity and flexibility of these proteins as they unfolded. The results provided insights into how each constituent's stretching under deformation contributes to structural and mechanical characteristics of these fibers and to elastic fiber assembly.