Purified proteoglycans extracted from pig laryngeal cartilage in 0.15 M-NaCl and 4 M-guanidinium chloride were analysed and their amino acid compositions determined. Selective modification of amino acid residues on the protein core confirmed that binding to hyaluronate was a function of the protein core, and was dependent on disulphide bridges, intact arginine and tryptophan residues, and epsilon-amino groups of lysine. Fluorescence measurement suggested that tryptophan was not involved in direct subsite interactions with the hyaluronate. The polydispersity in size and heterogeneity in composition of the aggregating proteoglycan was compatible with a structure based on a protein core containing a globular hyaluronate-binding region and an extended region of variable length also containing a variable degree of substitution with chondroitin sulphate chains. The non-aggregated proteoglycan extracted preferentially in 0.15 M-NaCl, which was unable to bind to hyaluronate, contained less cysteine and tryptophan than did other aggregating proteoglycans and may be deficient in the hyaluronate-binding region. Its small average size and low protein and keratan sulphate contents suggest that it may be a fragment of the chondroitin sulphate-bearing region of aggregating proteoglycan produced by proteolytic cleavage of newly synthesized molecules before their secretion from the cell.

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