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

Age-related changes in human bone proteoglycan structure. Impact of osteogenesis imperfecta.

Proteoglycans (PGs) are a family of molecules that undergo extensive post-translational modifications that include addition of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains as well as N- and O-linked oligosaccharides to the protein core. PG composition and structure have been reported to alter with age. To test whether the post-translational modifications to PGs can serve as in vitro surrogate end point markers for chronological age, the extent of GAG modifications was determined for PGs derived from normal human bone cells of 14 donors (age range, fetal to 60 years). Isolated cells were steady state radiolabeled with (35)SO(4)(2-) and [(3)H]GlcN. For biglycan and decorin, iduronate content was linearly correlated with age (increased 1.5x between fetal and age 60 years). For the syndecan-like heparan sulfate PG, the N-sulfation of post-natal cells increased over 3.5-fold until reaching a plateau during the 4th decade of life. The amount of O-linked oligosaccharides was also found to decrease as a function of increasing normal donor age, whereas the specific activity of the metabolic precursor pool remained constant regardless of donor age. These age-related changes in post-translational modifications were then used to demonstrate that osteoblasts derived from patients with osteogenesis imperfecta did not exhibit facets of a pre-mature aging, but rather were arrested in a fetal-like phenotypic state. A growth matrix rich in thrombospondin altered PG metabolism in osteoblastic cells, resulting in the production and secretion of the fetal-like (rich in O-linked oligosaccharides) forms of decorin and biglycan. This effect was qualitatively different from the effect of transforming growth factor-beta, which predominantly altered GAGs rather than O-linked oligosaccharides. No other Arg-Gly-Asp protein (fibronectin, vitronectin, type I collagen, osteopontin, and bone sialoprotein) showed any detectable effect on PG metabolism in bone cells. These results indicate that a proper matrix stoichiometry is critical for metabolism of PGs.[1]


  1. Age-related changes in human bone proteoglycan structure. Impact of osteogenesis imperfecta. Grzesik, W.J., Frazier, C.R., Shapiro, J.R., Sponseller, P.D., Robey, P.G., Fedarko, N.S. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
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