The hypothesis is widely held that, in growth plate during endochondral ossification, proteoglycans in the extracellular matrix of the lower hypertrophic zone are degraded by proteases and removed before mineralization, and that this is the mechanism by which a noncalcifiable matrix is transformed into a calcifiable matrix. We have evaluated this hypothesis by examining the immunofluorescent localization and concentrations of proteoglycan monomer core protein and link protein, and the concentrations of glycosaminoglycans demonstrated by safranin 0 staining, in the different zones of the bovine fetal cartilage growth plate. Monospecific antibodies were prepared to proteoglycan monomer core protein and to link protein. The immunofluorescent localization of these species was examined in decalcified and undecalcified sections containing the zones of proliferating and hypertrophic chondrocytes and in sections containing the zones of proliferating and hypertrophic chondrocytes and the metaphysis, decalcified in 0.5 M EDTA, pH 7.5, in the presence of protease inhibitors. Proteoglycan monomer core protein and link protein are demonstrable without detectable loss throughout the extracellular matrix of the longitudinal septa of the hypertrophic zone and in the calcified cartilage of the metaphysis. In fact, increased staining is observed in the calcifying cartilage. Contrary to the prevailing hypothesis, our results indicate that there is no net loss of proteoglycans during mineralization and that the proteoglycans become entombed in the calcified cartilage which provides a scaffolding on which osteoid and bone are formed. Proteoglycans appear to persist unaltered in the calcified cartilage core of the trabeculae, until at last the entire trabeculae are eroded from their surfaces and removed by osteoclasts, when the primary spongiosa is replaced by the secondary spongiosa.
Role of proteoglycans in endochondral ossification: immunofluorescent localization of link protein and proteoglycan monomer in bovine fetal epiphyseal growth plate.
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A R Poole, I Pidoux, L Rosenberg; Role of proteoglycans in endochondral ossification: immunofluorescent localization of link protein and proteoglycan monomer in bovine fetal epiphyseal growth plate.. J Cell Biol 1 February 1982; 92 (2): 249–260. doi: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.92.2.249
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