Nanoscale morphology of Type I collagen is altered in the Brtl mouse model of Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Joseph M. Wallace, Bradford G. Orr, Joan C. Marini, Mark M Banaszak Holl

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Bone has a complex hierarchical structure that has evolved to serve structural and metabolic roles in the body. Due to the complexity of bone structure and the number of diseases which affect the ultrastructural constituents of bone, it is important to develop quantitative methods to assess bone nanoscale properties. Autosomal dominant Osteogenesis Imperfecta results predominantly from glycine substitutions (80%) and splice site mutations (20%) in the genes encoding the α1 or α2 chains of Type I collagen. Genotype-phenotype correlations using over 830 collagen mutations have revealed that lethal mutations are located in regions crucial for collagen-ligand binding in the matrix. However, few of these correlations have been extended to collagen structure in bone. Here, an atomic force microscopy-based approach was used to image and quantitatively analyze the D-periodic spacing of Type I collagen fibrils in femora from heterozygous (Brtl/+) mice (α1(I)G349C), compared to wild type (WT) littermates. This disease system has a well-defined change in the col1α1 allele, leading to a well characterized alteration in collagen protein structure, which are directly related to altered Type I collagen nanoscale morphology, as measured by the D-periodic spacing. In Brtl/+ bone, the D-periodic spacing shows significantly greater variability on average and along the length of the bone compared to WT, although the average spacing was unchanged. Brtl/+ bone also had a significant difference in the population distribution of collagen D-period spacings. These changes may be due to the mutant collagen structure, or to the heterogeneity of collagen monomers in the Brtl/+ matrix. These observations at the nanoscale level provide insight into the structural basis for changes present in bone composition, geometry and mechanical integrity in Brtl/+ bones. Further studies are necessary to link these morphological observations to nanoscale mechanical integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • 2D FFT
  • AFM
  • Genotype/phenotype
  • Nanoscale
  • Ultrastructure

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