Direct detection of collagenous proteins by fluorescently labeled collagen mimetic peptides

Yang Li, Daniel Ho, Huan Meng, Tania R. Chan, Bo An, Hanry Yu, Barbara Brodsky, Albert S. Jun, S. Michael Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although fibrous collagens are major structural components of extracellular matrix in mammals, collagen overproduction is associated with many human diseases including cancers and fibrosis. Collagen is typically identified in biomedical research by Western blot and immunohistochemistry; however, anticollagen antibodies employed in these analyses are difficult to prepare and their affinities to collagen can diminish if collagen becomes denatured during analyses. Previously, we discovered that single-stranded collagen mimetic peptides [CMPs, sequence: (GlyProHyp)9] can bind to denatured collagen chains by triple helix hybridization. Here, we present collagen-specific staining methods using simple CMPs conjugated to common fluorophores (e.g., carboxyfluorescein), which allow direct detection of collagens and collagen-like proteins in SDS-PAGE and in various mammalian tissue sections. By directly staining SDS-PAGE gels with fluorescently labeled CMPs, both intact (type I, II, and IV) and MMP-1 cleaved collagen (type I) chains as well as complement factor C1q were detected. Collagen bands containing as little as 5 ng were optically visualized, while no staining was observed for fibronectin, laminin, and a collection of proteins from mammalian cell lysate. The CMP was unable to stain collagen-like bacterial protein, which contains numerous charged amino acids that are believed to stabilize triple helix in place of Hyp. We also show that fluorescently labeled CMPs can specifically visualize collagens in fixed tissue sections (e.g., skin, cornea, and bone) more effectively than anticollagen I antibody, and allow facile identification of pathologic conditions in fibrotic liver tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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