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Exp Cell Res. 1997 Sep 15;235(2):370-3.

Apoptosis of chondrocytes in transgenic mice lacking collagen II.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jefferson Institute of Molecular Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


Previous work demonstrated that collagen fibrils were not detectable in the cartilage of transgenic mice homozygous for targeted inactivation of the collagen II gene. In the present work, we used the same mice to show that chondrocytes undergo apoptosis in the absence of collagen II, the major component of the extracellular matrix of cartilage. The chondrocytes in the homozygous mice had condensed nuclei, fragmentation of nuclear DNA, and decreased levels of the Bcl-2 protein. These results provide direct evidence that cartilage extracellular matrix lacking collagen II cannot support the survival of chondrocytes. In addition, the results suggest that apoptosis may play a role in degenerative connective tissue diseases such as osteoarthritis in which there is extensive tissue loss.

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