The predominant proteoglycan present in cartilage is the large chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 'aggrecan'. Following its secretion, aggrecan self-assembles into a supramolecular structure with as many as 50 monomers bound to a filament of hyaluronan. Aggrecan serves a direct, primary role providing the osmotic resistance necessary for cartilage to resist compressive loads. Other proteoglycans expressed during chondrogenesis and in cartilage include the cell surface syndecans and glypican, the small leucine-rich proteoglycans decorin, biglycan, fibromodulin, lumican and epiphycan and the basement membrane proteoglycan, perlecan. The emerging functions of these proteoglycans in cartilage will enhance our understanding of chondrogenesis and cartilage degeneration.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.