The clinical and biochemical observations in a patient with a mild form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) type IV are described. The patient's skin fibroblasts produced markedly diminished amounts of type III collagen. SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of collagens produced by cells obtained from other, non-cutaneous tissues showed two forms of collagen alpha 1(III) chains, a normal and a slow migrating, mutant form. Further analysis confirmed that the type III collagen molecules containing mutant alpha chains which were overmodified had a lower thermal stability and were poorly secreted into the extracellular medium. The protein defect was mapped by in situ cyanogen bromide digestion and was located in alpha 1(III) CB9, the C-terminal peptide of the collagen triple helix. This study shows that non-cutaneous connective tissues can be a useful source for the study of type III collagen defects in patients with EDS type IV.
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