Int J Biol Sci 2007; 3(6):380-384. doi:10.7150/ijbs.3.380

Short Research Communication

Versican Expression during Synovial Joint Morphogenesis

John B. Shepard1, Heidi A. Krug1, Brooklynn A. LaFoon1, Stanley Hoffman2, Anthony A. Capehart1

1. Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville NC 27858, USA
2. Division of Rheumatology & Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA

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Shepard JB, Krug HA, LaFoon BA, Hoffman S, Capehart AA. Versican Expression during Synovial Joint Morphogenesis. Int J Biol Sci 2007; 3(6):380-384. doi:10.7150/ijbs.3.380. Available from

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The extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a critical role in governing cell behavior and phenotype during limb skeletogenesis. Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (Cspgs) are highly expressed in the ECM of precartilage mesenchymal condensations and are important to limb chondrogenesis and cartilage structure, but little is known regarding their involvement in formation of synovial joints in the embryonic limb. Matrix versican Cspg expression has previously been reported in the epiphysis of developing long bones and presumptive joint; however, detailed analysis has not yet been conducted. In the present study we immunolocalized versican and aggrecan Cspgs during chick elbow joint morphogenesis between HH st25-41 of development. In this study we show that versican and aggrecan expression initially overlapped in the incipient cartilage model of long bones in the wing, but versican was also highly expressed in the perichondrium and presumptive joint interzone during early stages of morphogenesis (HH st25-34). By HH st36-41 versican localization was restricted to the future articular surfaces of the developing joint and surrounding joint capsule while aggrecan localized in an immediately adjacent and predominately non-overlapping region of chondrogenic cells at the epiphyses. These results suggest a potential role for versican proteoglycan in development and maintenance of the synovial joint interzone.

Keywords: versican, synovial joint morphogenesis, chick embryo, extracellular matrix