Background: Fibronectin has a role in vital physiological processes such as cell migration during embryogenesis and wound healing. It mediates the attachment of cells to extracellular matrices that contain fibrous collagens. The affinity of fibronectin for native collagen and denatured collagen (gelatin) is located within a 42 kDa domain that contains four type 1 (F1) and two type 2 (F2) modules. A putative ligand-binding site has been located on an isolated F2 module, but the accessibility of this site in the intact domain is unknown. Thus, structural studies of module pairs and larger fragments are required for a better understanding of the interaction between fibronectin and collagen. Results: The solution structure of the 101-residue 6F1 1F2 module pair, which has a weak affinity for gelatin, has been determined by multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. The tertiary structures determined for each module conform to the F1 and F2 consensus folds established previously. The experimental data suggest that the two modules interact via a small hydrophobic interface but may not be tightly associated. Near-random-coil 1H NMR chemical shifts and fast dynamics for backbone atoms in the linker indicate that this region is unlikely to be involved in the overall stabilisation of the module pair. Conclusions: The modules in the 6F1 1F2 module pair interact with each other via a flexible linker and a hydrophobic patch, which lies on the opposite side of the 1F2 module to the putative collagen-binding site. The intermodule interaction is relatively weak and transient.
- Module pair