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Matrix Biol. 2000 Dec;19(7):557-68.

Thrombospondin 2, a matricellular protein with diverse functions.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Thrombospondin (TSP) 2 is a close relative of TSP1 but differs in its temporal and spatial distribution in the mouse. This difference in expression undoubtedly reflects the marked disparity in the DNA sequences of the promoters in the genes encoding the two proteins. The synthesis of TSP2 occurs primarily in connective tissues of the developing and growing mouse. In the adult animal the protein is again produced in response to tissue injury and in association with the growth of tumors. Despite the abnormalities in collagen fibrillogenesis, fragility of skin, and laxity of tendons and ligaments observed in the TSP2-null mouse, TSP2 does not appear to contribute directly to the structural integrity of connective tissue elements. Instead, emerging evidence supports a mode of action of TSP2 'at a distance', i.e. by modulating the activity and bioavailability of proteases and growth factors in the pericellular environment and, very likely, by interaction with cell-surface receptors. Thus, TSP2 qualifies as a matricellular protein, as defined in the introduction to this minireview series. The phenotype of TSP2-null mice has been very helpful in providing clues to the functions of TSP2. In addition to histological and functional abnormalities in connective tissues, these mice display an increased vascularity of the dermis and subdermal tissues, increased endosteal bone growth, a bleeding defect, and a marked adhesive defect of dermal fibroblasts. Our laboratory has established that TSP2 binds matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) and that the adhesive defect in TSP2-null fibroblasts results from increased MMP2 activity. The investigation of the basis for the other defects in the TSP2-null mouse is likely to yield equally interesting results.

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