Increased expression of the collagen receptor discoidin domain receptor 2 in articular cartilage as a key event in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis




To investigate the role of the collagen receptor discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR-2) in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA).


Histologic and immunohistochemical analyses were performed to characterize femoral head cartilage from 7 patients with OA and 4 patients with fracture, as well as articular cartilage from the knee joints of mice with surgically induced OA. Gene constructs encoding human Raf kinase inhibitor protein (RKIP), DDR-2 lacking the discoidin (DS) domain (ΔDS-DDR-2) or the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) core (ΔPTK-DDR-2), DDR-2 containing a substitution of tyrosine for alanine at position 740 (Y740A), and luciferase driven by the matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13) promoter were transfected into human chondrocyte cell lines. Activated and neutralized α2β1 integrin polyclonal antibodies, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, and the chemical inhibitors SB203580, for p38, and SP600125, for JNKs, were used in cell cultures. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to examine MMP-13 and DDR-2 messenger RNA (mRNA).


Increased immunostaining for DDR-2, MMP-13, and MMP-derived type II collagen fragments was detected in cartilage from patients with OA and from mice with surgically induced OA. The discoidin domain and PTK core of DDR-2 were essential for signal transmission and the resulting increased expression of MMP-13 in chondrocytes. Y740A mutation of DDR-2 reduced levels of mRNA for MMP-13 and endogenous DDR-2. The overexpression of RKIP or preincubation with the p38 inhibitor reduced MMP-13 mRNA levels. DDR-2 signaling was independent of the α2β1 integrin and the interleukin-1–induced signaling pathways in chondrocytes.


These findings suggest that increased expression of DDR-2, resulting in the elevated expression of MMP-13, may be one of the common events in OA progression.