Proteoglycan synthesis in explant cultures of adult bovine articular cartilage is stimulated in a dose-dependent manner when the tissue is cultured in the presence of foetal-calf serum. The stimulation of proteoglycan synthesis is paralleled by a similar increase in DNA synthesis; however, when DNA synthesis is inhibited by hydroxyurea the stimulation of proteoglycan synthesis by serum remains essentially the same. The apparent half-life of the pool of proteoglycan core protein precursor was measured in freshly isolated tissue as well as in tissue cultured for 7 days in the presence and in the absence of foetal-calf serum; under all conditions the half-life was the same, suggesting that this value is independent of the net rate of proteoglycan synthesis. In the presence of actinomycin D, an inhibitor of RNA synthesis, there was a difference in the apparent half-life of the available pool of mRNA coding for proteoglycan core protein: 8.5 h for tissue maintained in the presence of serum and 3.8 h for tissue cultured in the absence of serum. It is suggested that proteoglycan synthesis is stimulated by serum factors at the level of DNA-dependent RNA synthesis. Concomitant with an increase in the rate of proteoglycan synthesis induced by the presence of serum in the culture medium, an increase in the concentrations of several glycosyltransferases involved in chondroitin sulphate synthesis was also observed.

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