The Role of the Decorin-Dermatopontin Complex in the Extracellular Matrix of Cartilage
Supervisor: Dr Gavin Brown
Osteoarthritic disease is associated with an imbalance between cartilage degradation and synthesis and a fundamental knowledge of the structure, molecular composition and interactions of normal cartilage is key to understanding, and ultimately manipulating, tissue repair. Previous work has highlighted the importance of decorin in the maintenance of tissue integrity although the molecular mechanisms responsible remain unclear. Recently, studies have shown that dermatopontin, a decorin-binding protein, is present in cartilage and that it could be central to two essential processes; the maintenance of collagen fibril spacing and modulation of growth factor activity. This proposal will determine the molecular parameters of the decorin- dermatopontin complex in cartilage and its distribution in the tissue. This study will lead to a greater understanding of the role of decorin in cartilage homeostasis and in controlling the biomechanical properties of the tissue.