Mice Lacking the Matrilin Family of Extracellular Matrix Proteins Develop Mild Skeletal Abnormalities and Are Susceptible to Age-Associated Osteoarthritis

Publications: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Ping Li
  • Lutz Fleischhauer
  • Claudia Nicolae
  • Carina Prein
  • Zsuzsanna Farkas
  • Maximilian Michael Saller
  • Wolf Christian Prall
  • Raimund Wagener
  • Juliane Heilig
  • Anja Niehoff
  • Hauke Clausen-Schaumann
  • Paolo Alberton
  • Attila Aszodi

Research units


Matrilins (MATN1, MATN2, MATN3 and MATN4) are adaptor proteins of the cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM), which bridge the collagen II and proteoglycan networks. In humans, dominant-negative mutations in MATN3 lead to various forms of mild chondrodysplasias. However, single or double matrilin knockout mice generated previously in our laboratory do not show an overt skeletal phenotype, suggesting compensation among the matrilin family members. The aim of our study was to establish a mouse line, which lacks all four matrilins and analyze the consequence of matrilin deficiency on endochondral bone formation and cartilage function. Matn1-4-/- mice were viable and fertile, and showed a lumbosacral transition phenotype characterized by the sacralization of the sixth lumbar vertebra. The development of the appendicular skeleton, the structure of the growth plate, chondrocyte differentiation, proliferation, and survival were normal in mutant mice. Biochemical analysis of knee cartilage demonstrated moderate alterations in the extractability of the binding partners of matrilins in Matn1-4-/- mice. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed comparable compressive stiffness but higher collagen fiber diameters in the growth plate cartilage of quadruple mutant compared to wild-type mice. Importantly, Matn1-4-/- mice developed more severe spontaneous osteoarthritis at the age of 18 months, which was accompanied by changes in the biomechanical properties of the articular cartilage. Interestingly, Matn4-/- mice also developed age-associated osteoarthritis suggesting a crucial role of MATN4 in maintaining the stability of the articular cartilage. Collectively, our data provide evidence that matrilins are important to protect articular cartilage from deterioration and are involved in the specification of the vertebral column.

Original languageEnglish
Article number666
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number2
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 19.01.2020

ID: 5100446


View graph of relations