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1.  The O-glycomap of Lubricin, a Novel Mucin Responsible for Joint Lubrication, Identified by Site-specific Glycopeptide Analysis* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2014;13(12):3396-3409.
The lubricative, heavily glycosylated mucin-like synovial glycoprotein lubricin has previously been observed to contain glycosylation changes related to rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Thus, a site-specific investigation of the glycosylation of lubricin was undertaken, in order to further understand the pathological mechanisms involved in these diseases. Lubricin contains an serine/threonine/proline (STP)-rich domain composed of imperfect tandem repeats (EPAPTTPK), the target for O-glycosylation. In this study, using a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry approach, employing both collision-induced and electron-transfer dissociation fragmentation methods, we identified 185 O-glycopeptides within the STP-rich domain of human synovial lubricin. This showed that adjacent threonine residues within the central STP-rich region could be simultaneously and/or individually glycosylated. In addition to core 1 structures responsible for biolubrication, core 2 O-glycopeptides were also identified, indicating that lubricin glycosylation may have other roles. Investigation of the expression of polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase genes was carried out using cultured primary fibroblast-like synoviocytes, a cell type that expresses lubricin in vivo. This analysis showed high mRNA expression levels of the less understood polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 15 and 5 in addition to the ubiquitously expressed polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 1 and 2 genes. This suggests that there is a unique combination of transferase genes important for the O-glycosylation of lubricin. The site-specific glycopeptide analysis covered 82% of the protein sequence and showed that lubricin glycosylation displays both micro- and macroheterogeneity. The density of glycosylation was shown to be high: 168 sites of O-glycosylation, predominately sialylated, were identified. These glycosylation sites were focused in the central STP-rich region, giving the domain a negative charge. The more positively charged lysine and arginine residues in the N and C termini suggest that synovial lubricin exists as an amphoteric molecule. The identification of these unique properties of lubricin may provide insight into the important low-friction lubricating functions of lubricin during natural joint movement.
doi:10.1074/mcp.M114.040865
PMCID: PMC4256492  PMID: 25187573
2.  Fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3 Ligand Controls Formation of Regulatory T Cells in Autoimmune Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54884.
Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) is known as the primary differentiation and survival factor for dendritic cells (DCs). Furthermore, Flt3L is involved in the homeostatic feedback loop between DCs and regulatory T cell (Treg). We have previously shown that Flt3L accumulates in the synovial fluid in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and that local exposure to Flt3L aggravates arthritis in mice, suggesting a possible involvement in RA pathogenesis. In the present study we investigated the role of Flt3L on DC populations, Tregs as well as inflammatory responses in experimental antigen-induced arthritis. Arthritis was induced in mBSA-immunized mice by local knee injection of mBSA and Flt3L was provided by daily intraperitoneal injections. Flow cytometry analysis of spleen and lymph nodes revealed an increased formation of DCs and subsequently Tregs in mice treated with Flt3L. Flt3L-treatment was also associated with a reduced production of mBSA specific antibodies and reduced levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α. Morphological evaluation of mBSA injected joints revealed reduced joint destruction in Flt3L treated mice. The role of DCs in mBSA arthritis was further challenged in an adoptive transfer experiment. Transfer of DCs in combination with T-cells from mBSA immunized mice, predisposed naïve recipients for arthritis and production of mBSA specific antibodies. We provide experimental evidence that Flt3L has potent immunoregulatory properties. Flt3L facilitates formation of Treg cells and by this mechanism reduces severity of antigen-induced arthritis in mice. We suggest that high systemic levels of Flt3L have potential to modulate autoreactivity and autoimmunity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054884
PMCID: PMC3549988  PMID: 23349985
3.  The tumour-associated glycoprotein podoplanin is expressed in fibroblast-like synoviocytes of the hyperplastic synovial lining layer in rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
Activated fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) share many characteristics with tumour cells and are key mediators of synovial tissue transformation and joint destruction. The glycoprotein podoplanin is upregulated in the invasive front of several human cancers and has been associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition, increased cell migration and tissue invasion. The aim of this study was to investigate whether podoplanin is expressed in areas of synovial transformation in RA and especially in promigratory RA-FLS.
Methods
Podoplanin expression in human synovial tissue from 18 RA patients and nine osteoarthritis (OA) patients was assessed by immunohistochemistry and confirmed by Western blot analysis. The expression was related to markers of synoviocytes and myofibroblasts detected by using confocal immunofluoresence microscopy. Expression of podoplanin, with or without the addition of proinflammatory cytokines and growth factors, in primary human FLS was evaluated by using flow cytometry.
Results
Podoplanin was highly expressed in cadherin-11-positive cells throughout the synovial lining layer in RA. The expression was most pronounced in areas with lining layer hyperplasia and high matrix metalloproteinase 9 expression, where it coincided with upregulation of α-smooth muscle actin (α-sma). The synovium in OA was predominantly podoplanin-negative. Podoplanin was expressed in 50% of cultured primary FLSs, and the expression was increased by interleukin 1β, tumour necrosis factor α and transforming growth factor β receptor 1.
Conclusions
Here we show that podoplanin is highly expressed in FLSs of the invading synovial tissue in RA. The concomitant upregulation of α-sma and podoplanin in a subpopulation of FLSs indicates a myofibroblast phenotype. Proinflammatory mediators increased the podoplanin expression in cultured RA-FLS. We conclude that podoplanin might be involved in the synovial tissue transformation and increased migratory potential of activated FLSs in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3274
PMCID: PMC3132020  PMID: 21385358

Results 1-3 (3)