Chondroadherin is a cartilage protein with cell binding properties. The expression of chondroadherin was studied in rat tissues and during postnatal femoral head development. For design of oligonucleotide probes and primers a 1664 bp, full length, rat chondroadherin cDNA was isolated from a rat chondrosarcoma library and sequenced. Northern blot analysis showed chondroadherin mRNA to be present in femoral head and rib cartilage, as well as in tendon. More sensitive reverse-transcriptase PCR additionally identified the mRNA in calvaria, long bone and bone marrow. Localization of chondroadherin by immunocytochemistry in the developing femoral head from postnatal day 14 to day 60 showed presence of the protein in cartilaginous regions. With increasing age a very distinct localization of chondroadherin was seen in the territorial matrix around late proliferative cells in the growth plate as well as in the developing articular cartilage in the maturing femoral head. Localization of chondroadherin mRNA by in situ hybridization was in agreement with immunocytochemistry with strong hybridization signals in late proliferative cells in the growth plate. In the articular cartilage the expression was restricted to cells in the lower regions. A three-fold increase of cartilage chondroadherin content in the growing femoral head was demonstrated by Western blot analysis. The high expression of this cell binding protein in a dynamic region of cartilage suggests an important role for chondroadherin in the regulation of chondrocyte growth and proliferation.

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