Matrilin-3 Inhibits Chondrocyte Hypertrophy As a Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 Antagonist [Molecular Bases of Disease]

October 20th, 2014 by Yang, X., Trehan, S. K., Guan, Y. K., Sun, C., Moore, D. C., Jayasuriya, C. T., Chen, Q.

Increased chondrocyte hypertrophy is often associated with cartilage joint degeneration in human osteoarthritis (OA) patients. Matrilin-3 knockout (MATN3 KO) mice exhibit these features. However, the underlying mechanism is unknown. In this study, we seek a molecular explanation for increased chondrocyte hypertrophy in the mice prone to cartilage degeneration. We analyzed the effects of MATN3 on chondrocyte hypertrophy and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling by quantifying the hypertrophic marker collagen type X (Col X) gene expression and Smad1 activity in MATN3 KO mice in vivo and in MATN3 overexpressing chondrocytes in vitro. The effect of MATN3 and its specific domains on BMP activity were quantified by Col X promoter activity containing the BMP Responsive Element (BRE). Binding of MATN3 with BMP-2 was determined by immunoprecipitation, solid phase binding and surface plasmon resonance assays. In MATN3 KO mice, Smad1 activity was increased in growth plate chondrocytes than wild-type mice. Conversely, MATN3 overexpression in hypertrophic chondrocytes led to inhibition of BMP-2-stimulated, BRE-dependent Col X expression and Smad1 activity. MATN3 bound BMP-2 in a dose-dependent manner. Multiple epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domains clustered together by the coiled-coil of MATN3 is required for Smad1 inhibition. Hence, as a novel BMP-2 binding protein and antagonist in the cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM), MATN3 may have the inherent ability to inhibit premature chondrocyte hypertrophy by suppressing BMP-2/Smad1 activity.