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Open Access Research article

Degradation of small leucine-rich repeat proteoglycans by matrix metalloprotease-13: identification of a new biglycan cleavage site

Jordi Monfort1, Ginette Tardif1, Pascal Reboul1, François Mineau1, Peter Roughley2, Jean-Pierre Pelletier1 and Johanne Martel-Pelletier1*

Author Affiliations

1 Osteoarthritis Research Unit, University of Montreal Hospital Centre, Notre-Dame Hospital, 1560 Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal, Quebec H2L 4M1, Canada

2 Genetics Unit, Shriner's Hospital for Children, 1529 Cedar Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1A6, Canada

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R26  doi:10.1186/ar1873

Published: 3 January 2006

Abstract

A major and early feature of cartilage degeneration is proteoglycan breakdown. Matrix metalloprotease (MMP)-13 plays an important role in cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis (OA). This MMP, in addition to initiating collagen fibre cleavage, acts on several proteoglycans. One of the proteoglycan families, termed small leucine-rich proteoglycans (SLRPs), was found to be involved in collagen fibril formation/interaction, with some members playing a role in the OA process. We investigated the ability of MMP-13 to cleave members of two classes of SLRPs: biglycan and decorin; and fibromodulin and lumican. SLRPs were isolated from human normal and OA cartilage using guanidinium chloride (4 mol/l) extraction. Digestion products were examined using Western blotting. The identities of the MMP-13 degradation products of biglycan and decorin (using specific substrates) were determined following electrophoresis and microsequencing. We found that the SLRPs studied were cleaved to differing extents by human MMP-13. Although only minimal cleavage of decorin and lumican was observed, cleavage of fibromodulin and biglycan was extensive, suggesting that both molecules are preferential substrates. In contrast to biglycan, decorin and lumican, which yielded a degradation pattern similar for both normal and OA cartilage, fibromodulin had a higher level of degradation with increased cartilage damage. Microsequencing revealed a novel major cleavage site (... G177/V178) for biglycan and a potential cleavage site for decorin upon exposure to MMP-13. We showed, for the first time, that MMP-13 can degrade members from two classes of the SLRP family, and identified the site at which biglycan is cleaved by MMP-13. MMP-13 induced SLRP degradation may represent an early critical event, which may in turn affect the collagen network by exposing the MMP-13 cleavage site in this macromolecule. Awareness of SLRP degradation products, especially those of biglycan and fibromodulin, may assist in early detection of OA cartilage degradation.