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J Biol Chem. 2007 Dec 21;282(51):36933-41. Epub 2007 Oct 19.

Fragmentation of proteins in cartilage treated with interleukin-1: specific cleavage of type IX collagen by matrix metalloproteinase 13 releases the NC4 domain.

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Department of Experimental Medical Science, Lund University, SE-221 84 Lund, Sweden.


Degradation of bovine nasal cartilage induced by interleukin-1 (IL-1) was used to study catabolic events in the tissue over 16 days. Culture medium was fractionated by two-dimensional electrophoresis (isoelectric focusing and SDS-PAGE). Identification of components by peptide mass fingerprinting revealed released fragments representing the NC4 domain of the type IX collagen alpha1 chain at days 12 and 16. A novel peptide antibody against a near N-terminal epitope of the NC4 domain confirmed the finding and indicated the presence of one of the fragments already at day 9. Mass spectrometric analysis of the two most abundant fragments revealed that the smallest one contained almost the entire NC4 domain cleaved between arginine 258 and isoleucine 259 in the sequence -ETCNELPAR258-COOH NH2-ITP-. A larger fragment contained the NC4 domain and the major part of the COL3 domain with a cleavage site between glycine 400 and threonine 401 in COL3 (-RGPPGPPGPPGPSG400-COOH NH2-TIG-). The presence of multiple collagen alpha1 (IX) N-terminal sequences demonstrates that the released molecules were cleaved at sites very close to the original N terminus either prior to or due to IL-1 treatment. Matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13) is active and cleaves fibromodulin in the time interval studied. Cartilage explants treated with MMP-13 were shown to release collagen alpha1 (IX) fragments with the same sizes and with the same cleavage sites as those obtained upon IL-1 treatment. These data describe cleavage by an MMP-13 activity toward non-collagenous and triple helix domains. These potentially important degradation events precede the major loss of type II collagen.

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