Objective: To define the expression pattern of cadherin 11 in the destructive pannus tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and to determine whether cadherin 11 expression in fibroblast-like synoviocytes controls their invasive capacity.
Methods: Cadherin 11 expression in rheumatoid synovial tissue was evaluated using immunohistochemistry. To examine the role of cadherin 11 in regulating the invasive behavior of fibroblast-like synoviocytes, we generated L cell clones expressing wild-type cadherin 11, mutant cadherin 11, and empty vector-transfected controls. The invasive capacity of L cell transfectants and cultured fibroblast-like synoviocytes treated with a blocking cadherin 11-Fc fusion protein or control immunoglobulin was determined in Matrigel invasion assays.
Results: Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that cadherin 11 is abundantly expressed in cells at the cartilage-pannus junction in rheumatoid synovitis. Assays to determine invasion demonstrated a 2-fold increased invasive capacity of cadherin 11-transfected L cells compared with L cells transfected with E-cadherin or control vector. The invasive behavior of L cells stably transfected with a cadherin 11 construct that lacked the juxtamembrane cytoplasmic domain was diminished to the level of vector control L cells. Furthermore, treatment with the cadherin 11-Fc fusion protein diminished the invasive capacity of fibroblast-like synoviocytes.
Conclusion: The results of these in vitro studies implicate a role for cadherin 11 in promoting cell invasion and contribute insight into the invasive nature of fibroblast-like synoviocytes in chronic synovitis and rheumatoid arthritis.