Lineage tracing using matrilin-1 gene expression reveals that articular chondrocytes exist as the joint interzone forms

Dev Biol. 2007 Apr 15;304(2):825-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2007.01.026. Epub 2007 Jan 25.


We have developed a mouse in which the Cre recombinase gene has been targeted to exon 1 of the matrilin-1 gene (Matn1) to investigate the origins of articular chondrocytes and the development of the knee joint. Analysis of joints from offspring of Matn1-Cre/R26R crosses demonstrated that articular chondrocytes are derived from cells that have never expressed matrilin-1 whereas the remainder of the chondrocytes in the cartilage anlagen expresses matrilin-1. A band of chondrocytes adjacent to the developing interzone in the E13.5 day knee joint became apparent because these chondrocytes did not turn on expression of matrilin-1 in contrast to the other chondrocytes of the anlagen. The chondrocytes of the presumptive articular surface therefore appear to arise directly from a subpopulation of early chondrocytes that do not activate matrilin-1 expression rather than by redifferentiation from the flattened cells of the interzone. In addition, lineage tracing using both Matn1-Cre/R26R and Col2a1-Cre/R26R lines indicated that non-cartilaginous structures in the knee such as cruciate ligament, synovium and some blood vessels are formed by cells derived from the early chondrocytes of the anlagen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / embryology
  • Cartilage, Articular / growth & development
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage / physiology*
  • Chondrocytes / cytology*
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Exons
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / biosynthesis*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Joints / cytology*
  • Joints / embryology
  • Joints / growth & development
  • Matrilin Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Synovial Membrane / cytology
  • Synovial Membrane / embryology
  • Synovial Membrane / growth & development


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Matn1 protein, mouse
  • Matrilin Proteins