The role of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) in skeletal disease

Curr Drug Targets. 2008 Oct;9(10):869-77. doi: 10.2174/138945008785909293.


Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein is a non-collagenous extracellular matrix protein expressed primarily in cartilage, ligament, and tendon. Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein has been studied extensively because mutations in the gene cause two skeletal dysplasias, pseudoachondroplasia and multiple epiphyseal dysplasia. Pseudoachondroplasia is a disproportionate dwarfing condition associated with joint abnormalities, while multiple epiphyseal dysplasia is less severe. Both of these skeletal dysplasias have a characteristic chondrocyte pathology that consists of intracellular retention of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein and other extracellular matrix proteins in an enlarged rough endoplasmic reticulum. This toxic intracellular retention of extracellular matrix proteins causes chondrocyte cell death thereby decreasing linear bone growth. Additionally, when cartilage oligomeric matrix protein and the other co-retained proteins are not exported to the extracellular matrix, the resulting matrix is abnormal and easily erodes with normal physical activity. Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein is also a marker for joint destruction associated osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, joint trauma, and intense activity. Serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein levels are higher in aggressive cases of arthritis and levels are used to predict future disease progression. Recent studies have identified molecular functions of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein that may contribute to its role in skeletal disease. These molecular functions include: binding other ECM proteins, catalyzing polymerization of type II collagen fibrils, and regulation of chondrocyte proliferation. Here, we review cartilage oligomeric matrix protein's role in skeletal disease and potential molecular mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / physiology*
  • Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Matrilin Proteins
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / metabolism*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology


  • Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Matrilin Proteins
  • TSP5 protein, human