The Journal of biological chemistry

Structural characterization of pyrrolic cross-links in collagen using a biotinylated Ehrlich's reagent.

PMID 11278513


The structures of pyrrolic forms of cross-links in collagen have been confirmed by reacting collagen peptides with a biotinylated Ehrlich's reagent. This reagent was synthesized by converting the cyano group of N-methyl-N-cyanoethyl-4-aminobenzaldehyde to a carboxylic acid, followed by conjugation with biotin pentyl-amine. Derivatization of peptides from bone collagen both stabilized the pyrroles and facilitated selective isolation of the pyrrole-containing peptides using a monomeric avidin column. Reactivity of the biotinylated reagent with collagen peptides was similar to that of the standard Ehrlich reagent, but heat denaturation of the tissue before enzyme digestion resulted in the loss of about 50% of the pyrrole cross-links. Identification of a series of peptides by mass spectrometry confirmed the presence of derivatized pyrrole structures combined with between 1 and 16 amino acid residues. Almost all of the pyrrole-containing peptides appeared to be derived from N-terminal telopeptide sequences, and the nonhydroxylated (lysine-derived) form predominated over pyrrole cross-links derived from helical hydroxylysine.