18 February 2016
The hallmark of fibrotic disorders is a highly cross-linked and dense collagen matrix, a property driven by the oxidative action of lysyl oxidase. Other fibrosis-associated proteins also contribute to the final collagen matrix properties, one of which is fibromodulin. Its interactions with collagen affect collagen cross-linking, packing, and fibril diameter. We investigated the possibility that a specific relationship exists between fibromodulin and lysyl oxidase, potentially imparting a specific collagen matrix phenotype. We mapped the fibromodulin-collagen interaction sites using the collagen II and III Toolkit peptide libraries. Fibromodulin interacted with the peptides containing the known collagen cross-linking sites and the MMP-1 cleavage site in collagens I and II. Interestingly, the interaction sites are closely aligned within the quarter-staggered collagen fibril, suggesting a multivalent interaction between fibromodulin and several collagen helices. Furthermore, we detected an interaction between fibromodulin and lysyl oxidase (a major collagen cross-linking enzyme) and mapped the interaction site to 12 N-terminal amino acids on fibromodulin. This interaction also increases the activity of lysyl oxidase. Together, the data suggest a fibromodulin-modulated collagen cross-linking mechanism where fibromodulin binds to a specific part of the collagen domain and also forms a complex with lysyl oxidase, targeting the enzyme toward specific cross-linking sites.