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Structure of Collagen


A DETAILED X-ray study of collagen fibres obtained from different sources (namely, shark ray, rat tail tendon and kangaroo tail tendon) and a re-examination of the published wide-angle patterns indicate that the unit cell of collagen is hexagonal with a = 12–16 A. and c = 9.5–9 A., the actual values depending on the moisture content. The essential difference of this indexing from those reported earlier1–3 is that the 2.86-A. meridional arc is here interpreted not as a true meridional reflexion, but as arising from the superposition of two close non-meridional reflexions. A calculation of the angular spread of the arc, using the tilt of the c-axis deduced from the spread of the equatorial reflexions, confirms this interpretation. Table 1 shows the good agreement between the calculated and observed spacings of an air–dried and a wet specimen from kangaroo tail tendon.

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  4. Corey, R. B., and Pauling, L., Proc. Roy. Soc., B, 141, 10 (1953).

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  5. Randall, J. T., Fraser, R. D. B., and North, A. C. T., Proc. Roy. Soc., B, 141, 62 (1953).

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RAMACHANDRAN, G., KARTHA, G. Structure of Collagen. Nature 174, 269–270 (1954).

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