Osteopontin (OPN) is a multifunctional protein that has been linked to various intractable inflammatory diseases. One way by which OPN induces inflammation is the production of various functional fragments by enzyme cleavage. It has been well appreciated that OPN is cleaved by thrombin, and/or matrix metalloproteinase-3 and -7 (MMP-3/7). Although the function of thrombin-cleaved OPN is well characterized, little is known about the function of MMP-3/7-cleaved OPN. In this study, we found a novel motif, LRSKSRSFQVSDEQY, in the C-terminal fragment of MMP-3/7-cleaved mouse OPN binds to α9β1 integrin. Importantly, this novel motif is involved in the development of anti-type II collagen antibody-induced arthritis (CAIA). This study provides the first in vitro and in vivo evidence that OPN cleavage by MMP-3/7 is an important regulatory mechanism for CAIA.
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