Studies of pseudoachondroplasia chondrocytes and knockdown of the cartilage oligomeric matrix protein

Thomas M Merritt, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) is a large, homopentameric, extracellular matrix glycoprotein. Mutations in COMP cause two skeletal dysplasias: pseudoachondroplasia (PSACH) and multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (EMD1). These dwarfing conditions are caused by retention of misfolded mutant COMP with type IX collagen and matrilin-3 (MATN3) in the rough endoplasmic reticulum (rER) of the chondrocyte. These proteins form a matrix in the rER that continues to expand until it fills the entire cell, eventually causing cell death. Interestingly, loss of COMP in COMP null mice does not affect normal bone development or growth, suggesting that elimination of COMP (wildtype and mutant) expression may prevent PSACH. The hypothesis of these studies was that a hammerhead ribozyme could eliminate or knockdown COMP mRNA expression in PSACH chondrocytes . To test this hypothesis, a human chondrocyte model system that recapitulates the PSACH chondrocyte phenotype was developed by over-expressing mutant (mt-) COMP in normal chondrocytes using a recombinant adenovirus. Chondrocytes over-expressing mt-COMP developed giant rER cisternae containing COMP, type IX collagen and MATN3. Deconvolution microscopy and computer modeling showed that these proteins formed an ordered matrix surrounding a type II pro-collagen core. Additionally, the results show that a hammerhead ribozyme, ribozyme 56 (Ribo56) reduced over-expressed mt-COMP in COS cells and endogenous COMP in normal chondrocytes and mt-COMP in three PSACH chondrocytes cell line (with different mutations) by 40-70%. Altogether, these studies show that the PSACH cellular phenotype can be created in vitro and that the mt-COMP protein burden can be reduced by the presence of a COMP-specific ribozyme. Future studies will focus on designing ribozymes or short interfering RNA (siRNA) technologies that will result in better knockdown of COMP expression as well as the temporal constraints imposed by the PSACH phenotype.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics|Virology

Recommended Citation

Merritt, Thomas M, "Studies of pseudoachondroplasia chondrocytes and knockdown of the cartilage oligomeric matrix protein" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3312621.