Collagen and Animal Phylogeny

  • Baccio Baccetti
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 93)


Collagen is the most diffused and common protein in the animal kingdom, responsible for the extracellular framework of all metazoans and, therefore, for animal evolution. It is characterized by a precise wide angle X-ray diffraction pattern (2.8, 4 and 10 Å meridional spacings, and an approximately 11 Å equatorial reflection), and by glycine accounting for 1/3 of the aminoacid residues. The electron microscopical picture of this protein being quite variable (periodate or unperiodate fibrils, and also different periods in various animal groups) different molecular organizations for different tissues or species can be suggested. Doyle et al. (1975) assume the origin of collagen polymorphism to be in the aminoacid sequence, which is responsible also for variations in structure and cross linking. In recent years a number of chains have been described, from the few types present in the triple helix of Cnidaria, to the nine or more chains recognized in the various regions of the mammalian body (Eyre, 1980). Therefore, even if variations in glycosylation, hydroxylation, cross linking are dependent on tissue type, hormonal status and age, a progressive evolution in the molecule itself is quite evident. It is more difficult to relate this process to a phylogenetic design, mainly because in most of invertebrates data on the presence and structure of collagen are completely lacking.


Amino Acid Composition Triple Helix Skin Collagen Collagen Polymorphism Vertebrate Type 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baccio Baccetti
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyUniversity of SienaItaly

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