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J Biol Chem. 1997 Dec 19;272(51):32419-26.

Identification of chondromodulin I as a novel endothelial cell growth inhibitor. Purification and its localization in the avascular zone of epiphyseal cartilage.

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Department of Biochemistry, Osaka University Faculty of Dentistry, Osaka 565, Japan.


Cartilage is unique among tissues of mesenchymal origin in that it is resistant to vascular invasion due to an intrinsic angiogenic inhibitor. During endochondral bone formation, however, calcified cartilage formed in the center of the cartilaginous bone rudiment allows vascular invasion, which initiates the replacement of cartilage by bone. The transition of cartilage from the angioresistant to the angiogenic status thus plays a key role in bone formation. However, the molecular basis of this phenotypic transition of cartilage has been obscure. We report here purification of an endothelial cell growth inhibitor from a guanidine extract of bovine epiphyseal cartilage. The N-terminal amino acid sequence indicated that the inhibitor was identical to chondromodulin I (ChM-I), a cartilage-specific growth-modulating factor. Purified ChM-I inhibited DNA synthesis and proliferation of vascular endothelial cells as well as tube morphogenesis in vitro. Expression of ChM-I cDNA in COS7 cells indicated that mature ChM-I molecules were secreted from the cells after post-translational modifications and cleavage from the transmembrane precursor at the predicted processing signal. Recombinant ChM-I stimulated DNA synthesis and proteoglycan synthesis of cultured growth plate chondrocytes, but inhibited tube morphogenesis of endothelial cells. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical studies indicated that ChM-I is specifically expressed in the avascular zone of cartilage in developing bone, but not present in calcifying cartilage. These results suggest a regulatory role of ChM-I in vascular invasion during endochondral bone formation.

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