The research aims at understanding structural and functional relationships of proteins within the extracellular matrix, how these interact with each other and how they influence cell behavior. We study the molecular composition of the extracellular matrix using tissue proteomics. In joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis the cartilage is affected by breakdown and loss of function. We study this tissue degradation at early stages of the disease process by identifying proteolytic events leading to the release of protein fragments characterized by mass spectrometry. We are also invetigating the consequences of functional mutations in the highly abundant protein aggrecan. Patients with these mutations have affected growth and commonly have short stature and premature osteoarthritis.
These studies increase our knowledge of early events in the disease process that is critical for identification of new biomarkers for improved diagnostics and future therapy.
Cartilage and bone are tissues that are rich in extracellular matrix. The composition of the extracellular matrix is responsible for their unique physical properties where cartilage withstands load and contribute to low-friction movements. Bone support and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals.