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Methods. 2008 May;45(1):22-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2008.01.008.

Proteomic analysis of cartilage proteins.

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  • 1Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.


While the analysis of the cartilage proteome is important for our comprehensive understanding of the development and disease of this important tissue, several unique features of cartilage present some technical obstacles. Firstly, cartilage is difficult to obtain in adequate quantities for many protein analyses, especially from mice which are otherwise powerful experimental models. Furthermore, the cartilage extracellular matrix contains an insoluble network of collagen II-containing fibrils that are integrated within an abundant anionic network of aggrecan and hyaluronan aggregates. These interacting networks provide a structural scaffold for the covalent and non-covalent attachment of other proteins and glycoproteins. Consequently, proteomic analysis of cartilage requires extraction of proteins with chaotropic agents to achieve and significant protein solubilization. Finally, isolated chondrocytes are phenotypically unstable, which requires rapid isolation of cells or the use of specific culture conditions. Despite these problems, recent improvements in the sensitivity and reproducibility of two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) techniques, combined with improved tissue preparation and sample pre-fractionation approaches, have made the proteomic characterization of cartilage tissues possible. Here we review the approaches that have been used and describe in detail protocols for the proteomic analysis of cartilage tissues and cells.

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