Levels of HtrA1 protein in cartilage have been reported to elevate in joints of human osteoarthritis patients. To understand roles of HtrA1 in normal osteogenesis as well as in pathogenesis of arthritis, we examine HtrA1 expression pattern during bone and cartilage development and in articular cartilage affected by experimental arthritis. HtrA1 is not expressed in mesenchymal or cartilage condensations before initiation of ossification. When ossification begins in the condensations, the expression of HtrA1 starts in chondrocytes undergoing hypertrophic differentiation near the ossification center. Hypertrophic chondrocytes found in adult articular cartilage and epiphyseal growth plates also express HtrA1. When arthritis is induced by injection of anti-collagen antibodies and lipopolysaccharide, resting chondrocytes proceed to terminal hypertrophic differentiation and start expressing HtrA1. These data suggest that hypertrophic change induces HtrA1 expression in chondrocytes both in normal and pathological conditions. HtrA1 has been reported to inhibit TGF-β signaling. We show that HtrA1 digests major components of cartilage, such as aggrecan, decorin, fibromodulin, and soluble type II collagen. HtrA1 may, therefore, promote degeneration of cartilage by inducing terminal hypertrophic chondrocyte differentiation and by digesting cartilage matrix though its TGF-β inhibitory activity and protease activity, respectively. In bone, active cuboidal osteoblasts barely express HtrA1, but osteoblasts which flatten and adhere to the bone matrix and osteocytes embedded in bone are strongly positive for HtrA1 production. The bone matrix shows a high level of HtrA1 protein deposition akin to that of TGF-β, suggesting a close functional interaction between TGF-β and HtrA1.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Serine protease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism