Thrombospondin, the most abundant protein of platelet alpha granules, is a biosynthetic product of a variety of connective tissue cells and a component of many extracellular matrices. In this study, thrombospondin distribution in bone was investigated using a monoclonal antibody specific for the human protein. Thrombospondin was localized in osteoid of undemineralized, frozen sections of fetal subperiosteal bone, and identified as a component of mineralized bone matrix of neonatal and/or young (growing) bone of many animal species by Western blot analysis. Adult human bone cells were demonstrated to contain mRNA for thrombospondin by hybridization of a cDNA thrombospondin probe to a 6.1 kb mRNA. Pulse-chase experiments indicated that the protein was synthesized and the majority was secreted from osteoblastic cells. Treatment of the cells with TGF-beta (0.01-10 ng/ml) slightly decreased total thrombospondin synthesis, but caused an increase in the retention on newly synthesized thrombospondin in the cell layer/matrix fraction. In cell attachment assays, thrombospondin mediated adhesion, but not spreading of adult human bone cells.

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