Collagen XIV was isolated from neutral salt extracts of human placenta and purified by several chromatographic steps including affinity binding to heparin. The same procedures also led to the purification of a tissue form of fibronectin. Collagen XIV was demonstrated by partial sequence analysis of its Col1 and Col2 domains and by electron microscopy to be a disulphide-linked molecule with a characteristic cross-shape. The individual chains had a size of approximately 210 kD, which was reduced to approximately 180 kD (domain NC3) after treatment with bacterial collagenase. Specific antibodies mainly to NC3 epitopes were obtained by affinity chromatography and used in tissue and cell analyses by immunoblotting and radioimmunoassays. Two sequences from NC3 were identified on fragments obtained after trypsin cleavage. They were identical to cDNA-derived sequences of undulin, a noncollagenous extracellular matrix protein. This suggests that collagen XIV and undulin may be different splice variants from the same gene. Heparin binding was confirmed in ligand assays with a large basement membrane heparan sulphate proteoglycan. This binding could be inhibited by heparin and heparan sulphate but not by chondroitin sulphate. In addition, collagen XIV bound to the triple helical domain of collagen VI. The interactions with heparin sulphate proteoglycan and collagen VI were not shared by the NC3 domain, or by reduced and alkylated collagen XIV. No or only low binding was observed for collagens I-V, pN-collagens I and III, and several noncollagenous matrix proteins, including laminin, recombinant nidogen, BM-40/osteonectin, plasma and tissue fibronectin, vitronectin, and von Willebrand factor. Insignificant activity was also shown in cell attachment assays with nine established cell lines.

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