• collagen;
  • decorin;
  • collagen peptides;
  • proteoglycans;
  • protein–protein interactions

Decorin is a small leucine-rich chondroitin/dermatan sulfate proteoglycan reported to interact with fibrillar collagens through its protein core and to localize at d and e bands of the collagen fibril banding pattern. Using a solid-phase assay, we have determined the interaction of peptides derived by CNBr cleavage of type I and type II collagen with decorin extracted from bovine tendon and its protein core and with a recombinant decorin preparation. At least five peptides have been found to interact with all three decorin samples. The interaction of peptides with tendon decorin has a dissociation constant in the nanomolar range. The triple helical conformation of the peptide trimeric species is a necessary requisite for the binding. All positive peptides have a region within the d and e bands of collagen fibrils. Two chemical derivatives of collagens and of positive peptides were prepared by N-acetylation and N-methylation of the primary amino group of Lys/Hyl side chains. Chemical modifications performed in mild conditions do not significantly alter the thermal stability of peptide trimeric species whereas they affect the interaction with decorin: N-acetylation eliminates both the positive charge and the binding to decorin, whereas N-methylation preserves the cationic character and modulates the binding. We conclude that decorin makes contacts with multiple sites in type I collagen and probably also in type II collagen and that some collagen Lys/Hyl residues are essential for the binding.