Direct quantification of the flexibility of type I collagen monomer

Yu Long Sun, Zong Ping Luo, Andrzej Fertala, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Collagens are the most abundant structural proteins found in the extracellular matrix of vertebrates. Knowledge of the mechanical behavior of collagen monomers is essential for understanding the mechanical properties of collagen fibrils that constitute the main architectural framework of skin, bone, cartilage, and other connective tissues. In this study, the flexibility of type I collagen monomer was studied by stretching type I collagen monomers directly. The force-extension relationship was measured and analyzed by fitting the data into a worm-like chain elasticity model. The persistence length of collagen I monomer was determined to be 14.5 nm and the contour length was 309 nm. The results comfirm that type I collagen monomer is flexible rather than rigid, rod-like molecule. Such flexibility may possibly be a consequence of the micro-unfolding of discrete domains of single collagen molecule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-386
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Flexibility
  • Optical tweezers
  • Persistence length
  • Type I collagen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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