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Am J Pathol. 2012 Feb;180(2):738-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.10.033. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

D469del-COMP retention in chondrocytes stimulates caspase-independent necroptosis.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Mutations in the cartilage oligomeric matrix protein gene (COMP) cause pseudoachondroplasia (PSACH). This dysplasia results from the intracellular retention of mutant COMP protein and premature death of growth-plate chondrocytes. Toward better understanding of these underlying mechanisms, we examined D469del-COMP activation of the unfolded protein response and cell death pathways in rat chondrosarcoma cells. Using an inducible expression system, we examined the effects of D469del-COMP retention after 4 days of mRNA expression and then 5 days without inducing agent. Retention of D469del-COMP stimulated Chop (Ddit3) and Gadd34 (Ppp1r15a) and triggered reactivation of protein translation that exacerbated intracellular retention. High levels of Nox4 and endoplasmic reticulum receptor stress-inducible Ero1β generated reactive oxygen species, causing oxidative stress. Increased expression of Gadd genes and presence of γH2AX indicated that DNA damage was occurring. The presence of cleaved apoptosis inducing factor (tAIF) and the absence of activated caspases indicated that retention of D469del-COMP triggers cell death in chondrocytes by necroptosis, a caspase-independent programmed necrosis. Loss of growth-plate chondrocytes by necroptosis was also found in our pseudoachondroplasia mouse model. These results suggest a model in which D469del-COMP expression induces persistent endoplasmic reticulum stress, oxidative stress, and DNA damage, thus priming chondrocytes for necroptosis. We define for the first time the precise mechanisms underlying D469del-COMP pathology in pseudoachondroplasia and suggest that oxidative stress and AIF may be promising therapeutic targets.

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