The early stages of degradation of native collagen by two bacterial collagenases were studied by electron microscopy and by automatic Edman degradation. The purified collagenase from Clostridium histolyticum was shown to cleave native collagen at several sites, but not progressively from the N-terminus, as had been previously suggested. The homogeneous collagenase from Achromobacter iophagus cleaves native collagen preferentially at two sites corresponding to the interbands 33-34 and 41-42. The latter lies within the region cleaved by the eukaryotic collagenases.

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