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Nat Genet. 2005 Jun;37(6):607-12. Epub 2005 May 1.

A functional SNP in CILP, encoding cartilage intermediate layer protein, is associated with susceptibility to lumbar disc disease.

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Laboratory for Bone and Joint Diseases, SNP Research Center, The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Lumbar disc disease (LDD) is caused by degeneration of intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine. One of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, LDD has strong genetic determinants. Using a case-control association study, we identified a functional SNP (1184T --> C, resulting in the amino acid substitution I395T) in CILP, which encodes the cartilage intermediate layer protein, that acts as a modulator of LDD susceptibility. CILP was expressed abundantly in intervertebral discs, and its expression increased as disc degeneration progressed. CILP colocalized with TGF-beta1 in clustering chondrocytes and their territorial matrices in intervertebral discs. CILP inhibited TGF-beta1-mediated induction of cartilage matrix genes through direct interaction with TGF-beta1 and inhibition of TGF-beta1 signaling. The susceptibility-associated 1184C allele showed increased binding and inhibition of TGF-beta1. Therefore, we conclude that the extracellular matrix protein CILP regulates TGF-beta signaling and that this regulation has a crucial role in the etiology and pathogenesis of LDD. Our study also adds to the list of connective tissue diseases that are associated with TGF-beta.

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