Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein is overexpressed by scleroderma dermal fibroblasts

Matrix Biol. 2006 May;25(4):213-22. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2006.01.007. Epub 2006 Mar 7.


Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) is an extracellular glycoprotein that belongs to the thrombospondin gene family. It is found predominantly in cartilage, tendon, ligament, and bone. Mutations in the COMP gene have been linked to the development of pseudoachondroplasia and multiple epiphysial dysplasia. COMP influences the organization of collagen fibrils by interacting with collagens I, II and IX. Gene expression profiling of cultured skin fibroblasts suggested that COMP mRNA levels were elevated in scleroderma. We therefore examined COMP expression in SSc and normal skin biopsies. Immunohistochemistry confirmed that COMP protein accumulates in SSc but not normal skin, with SSc skin showing striking deposition in the papillary and deeper dermis. Significant staining was also seen in non-lesional skin from patients. Due to its involvement in the development of fibrosis, TGFbeta was examined for a possible role in regulating COMP expression. Cultured SSc fibroblasts demonstrated greater staining for COMP compared to normal controls prior to stimulation, and TGFbeta-1 induced a large increase in mRNA and protein. Murine fibroblasts engineered to overexpress human COMP demonstrated increased levels of fibronectin and collagen in the extracellular matrix. Taken together, these data demonstrate that COMP is overexpressed in SSc skin and cultured fibroblasts possibly due to autocrine TGFbeta stimulation, and COMP overexpression is sufficient to stimulate excess matrix deposition. By interactions with other matrix proteins and cells, COMP may play a role in pathogenic matrix deposition.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Matrilin Proteins
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / pathology*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Fibronectins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Matn1 protein, mouse
  • Matrilin Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • TSP5 protein, human
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Collagen