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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

ADAMTS4 cleaves at the aggrecanase site (Glu373-Ala374) and secondarily at the matrix metalloproteinase site (Asn341-Phe342) in the aggrecan interglobular domain.

Two major proteolytic cleavages, one at NITEGE(373)/A(374)RGSVI and the other at VDIPEN(341)/F(342)FGVGG, have been shown to occur in vivo within the interglobular domain of aggrecan. The Glu(373)-Ala(374) site is cleaved in vitro by aggrecanase-1 (ADAMTS4) and aggrecanase-2 (ADAMTS5), whereas the other site, at Asn(341)-Phe(342), is efficiently cleaved by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and by cathepsin B at low pH. Accordingly, the presence of the cleavage products globular domain 1 (G1)-NITEGE(373) and G1-VDIPEN(341) in vivo has been widely interpreted as evidence for the specific involvement of ADAMTS enzymes and MMPs/cathepsin B, respectively, in aggrecan proteolysis in situ. We show here, in digests with native human aggrecan, that purified ADAMTS4 cleaves primarily at the Glu(373)-Ala(374) site, but also, albeit slowly and secondarily, at the Asn(341)-Phe(342) site. Cleavage at the Asn(341)-Phe(342) site in these incubations was due to bona fide ADAMTS4 activity (and not a contaminating MMP) because the cleavage was inhibited by TIMP-3 (a potent inhibitor of ADAMTS4), but not by TIMP-1 and TIMP-2, at concentrations that totally blocked MMP-3-mediated cleavage at this site. Digestion of recombinant human G1-G2 (wild-type and cleavage site mutants) confirmed the dual activity of ADAMTS4 and supported the idea that the enzyme cleaves primarily at the Glu(373)-Ala(374) site and secondarily generates G1-VDIPEN(341) by removal of the Phe(342)-Glu(373) peptide from G1-NITEGE(373). These results show that G1-VDIPEN(341) is a product of both MMP and ADAMTS4 activities and challenge the widely held assumption that this product represents a specific indicator of MMP- or cathepsin B- mediated aggrecan degradation.[1]


  1. ADAMTS4 cleaves at the aggrecanase site (Glu373-Ala374) and secondarily at the matrix metalloproteinase site (Asn341-Phe342) in the aggrecan interglobular domain. Westling, J., Fosang, A.J., Last, K., Thompson, V.P., Tomkinson, K.N., Hebert, T., McDonagh, T., Collins-Racie, L.A., LaVallie, E.R., Morris, E.A., Sandy, J.D. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
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