We have generated a monoclonal antibody against a synthetic peptide whose sequence was derived from the nucleotide sequence of a cDNA encoding alpha 1(XII) collagen. The antibody, 75d7, has been used to identify the alpha 1(XII) chain on immunoblots of SDS-PAGE tendon extracts as a 220-kD polypeptide, under reducing conditions. Amino-terminal amino acid sequence analysis of an immunopurified cyanogen bromide fragment of type XII collagen from embryonic chick tendons gave a single sequence identical to that predicted from the cDNA, thus confirming that the antibody recognizes the type XII protein. Immunofluorescence studies with the antibody demonstrate that type XII collagen is localized in type I-containing dense connective tissue structures such as tendons, ligaments, perichondrium, and periosteum. With these data, taken together with previous results showing that a portion of the sequence domains of type XII collagen is similar to domains of type IX, a nonfibrillar collagen associated with cross-striated fibrils in cartilage, we suggest that types IX and XII collagens are members of a distinct class of extracellular matrix proteins found in association with quarter-staggered collagen fibrils.
A method is presented for isolating osteoblasts from newborn mouse calvaria without the use of digestive enzymes. The procedure is based on the ability of osteoblasts to migrate from bone onto small glass fragments (Jones, S.J., and A. Boyde, 1977, Cell Tissue Res., 184:179-193). The isolated cells were cultured for up to 14 d in Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium supplemented with 10% fetal calf serum and 50 micrograms/ml of ascorbic acid. 7-d cultures were incubated for 24 h with [3H]proline. High levels of collagen synthesis relative to total protein were found, as measured by collagenase digestion of medium and cell layer proteins. Analysis of pepsin-digested proteins from the same cultures by SDS PAGE showed that type I collagen was predominantly produced with small amounts of type III and V (alpha 1 chains) collagens. Osteoblasts grown in the presence of beta-glycerophosphate were able to initiate mineral deposition in culture. Electron microscopic analysis of the cultures revealed the presence of needle-shaped apatite-like crystals associated with collagen fibrils and vesicles in the extracellular space. Mouse skin fibroblasts cultured under identical conditions failed to initiate mineralization. Electron histochemical studies revealed the presence of alkaline phosphatase activity, associated with osteoblast membranes, matrix vesicles and on or near collagen fibrils. Thus these isolated osteoblasts retained in culture their unique property of initiating mineralization and therefore represent a model of value for studying the mineralization process in vitro.