Objective: WISP3 (Wnt-1-inducible secreted protein 3) is a member of the CCN (connective tissue growth factor, cysteine-rich 61, nephroblastoma overexpressed) family of connective tissue growth factors. WISP3 mutations have been linked to progressive pseudorheumatoid dysplasia (PPRD). The present study was conducted to investigate whether WISP3 is responsible for the expression of cartilage-specific molecules.
Methods: WISP3 expression in human cartilage was assessed by immunostaining with anti-WISP3 antibody. The effect of WISP3 on chondrocyte-specific gene regulation was determined by transfecting human chondrocyte lines C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2 with a WISP3 expression vector. Alterations in WISP3-mediated messenger RNA and protein expression of cartilage-specific molecules were assessed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting.
Results: Immunohistochemistry experiments demonstrated that WISP3 protein is expressed in the midzone chondrocytes of normal adult articular cartilage, in chondrocyte clusters of osteoarthritic cartilage, and in the zone of proliferating chondrocytes of fetal growth cartilage. Human chondrocyte lines C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2 transfected with a WISP3 expression vector produced increased amounts of the cartilage-specific matrix molecules type II collagen and aggrecan, in part via activation of the sex-determining region Y-type high mobility group box (SOX) family of transcription factors. In contrast, a mutant WISP3, previously found to be associated with PPRD, had impaired effects on cartilage-specific gene expression.
Conclusion: Our experimental results suggest that WISP3 supports cartilage integrity by regulating the expression of type II collagen and aggrecan, and mutations linked with PPRD can compromise this function and produce cartilage loss.