Basement membrane zone type XV collagen is a disulfide-bonded chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan in human tissues and cultured cells.
Type XV collagen has a widespread distribution in human tissues, but a nearly restricted localization in basement membrane zones. The alpha1(XV) chain contains a highly interrupted collagenous region of 577 residues, and noncollagenous amino- and carboxyl-terminal domains of 530 and 256 residues, respectively. Cysteines are present in each domain and consensus sequences for O-linked glycosaminoglycans are situated in the amino terminus and in two large, noncollagenous interruptions. We now report that type XV collagen is a chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan in human tissues and cultured cells, and that the alpha chains are covalently linked by interchain disulfide bonds only between the two cysteines in the collagenous region. Western blotting of tissue extracts revealed a diffuse smear with a mean size >/=400 kDa, which after chondroitinase digestion resolved into a 250-kDa band in umbilical cord, and 250- and 225-kDa bands in placenta, lung, colon, and skeletal muscle. The latter two bands were also directly visualized by alcian blue/silver staining of a purified placenta extract. In a human rhabdomyosarcoma cell line, almost all of the newly synthesized type XV collagen was secreted into the medium and upon chondroitinase digestion just the 250-kDa alpha chain was generated. Chondroitinase plus collagenase digestion of tissue and medium proteins followed by Western blotting using domain-specific antibodies revealed a 135-kDa amino-terminal fragment containing glycosaminoglycan chains and a 27-kDa fragment representing the intact carboxyl terminus. However, a truncated carboxyl peptide of approximately 8-kDa was also evident in tissue extracts containing the 225-kDa form. Our data suggest that the 225-kDa form arises from differential carboxyl cleavage of the 250-kDa form, and could explain the approximately 19-kDa endostatin-related fragments (John, H., Preissner, K. T., Forssmann, W.-G., and Ständker, L. (1999) Biochemistry 38, 10217-10224), which may be liberated from the alpha1(XV) chain.