The triple helix structure of collagen can be degraded by collagenase. In this study, we explored how the intrinsic fluorescence of type I collagen was influenced by collagenase I. We found that tyrosine was the main factor that could successfully excite the collagen fluorescence. Initially, self-assembly behavior of collagen resulted in a large amount of tyrosine wrapped with collagen, which decreased the fluorescence intensity of type I collagen. After collagenase cleavage, some wrapped-tyrosine could be exposed and thereby the intrinsic fluorescence intensity of collagen increased. By observation and analysis, the influence of collagenase to intrinsic fluorescence of collagen was investigated and elaborated. Furthermore, collagenase cleavage to the special triple helix structure of collagen would result in a slight improvement of collagen thermostability, which was explained by the increasing amount of terminal peptides. These results are helpful and effective for reaction mechanism research related to collagen, which can be observed by fluorescent technology. Meantime, the reaction behaviors of both collagenase and collagenolytic proteases can also be analyzed by fluorescent technology. In conclusion, this research provides a foundation for the further investigation of collagen reactions in different areas, such as medicine, nutrition, food and agriculture.
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