Lysyl oxidase is an important enzyme for the creation of crosslinks between collagen triple-helices in connective tissue. By oxidizing the terminal amino group of lysine, an aldehyde is created. This aldehyde can undergo several reactions with neighboring aldehydes or amines to create strong covalent cross-links between collagen tertiary structures in bone and cartilage. The main product of these reactions is the aldimine compound dehydrohydroxylysinonorleucine. This unique crosslink can be formed by the Schiff base mechanism in which the lone pair of electrons on a primary amine react with the carbonyl carbon of an aldehyde. Other crosslinks include the formation of an α,β-unsaturated ketone via aldol condensation and hydroxylysinonorleucine.
If these crosslinks are not formed, as in the case of osteolathyrism, the synthesis of strong mesenchymal and mesodermal tissue is inhibited. Symptoms of osteolathyrism include weakness and fragility of connective tissue (i.e., skin, bones, and blood vessels (angiolathyrism) and the paralysis of the lower extremities associated with neurolathyrism. For these reasons, compounds containing lathyrogens should be avoided during pregnancy and growth of a child.
Read more about this topic: Osteolathyrism
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