Differential roles for small leucine-rich proteoglycans in bone formation

R. J. Waddington, H. C. Roberts, R. V. Sugars, E. Schönherr, H. Plenk, G. Daculsi, B. Johnstone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


This paper reviews our current state of knowledge of the roles the small leucine-rich proteoglycans (SLRPs) play in the formation of connective tissue and mineralised tissue matrices. Both, the SLRPs biglycan and decorin are highly expressed in extracellular bone matrix and there is now substantial evidence to support an increasing role for biglycan and decorin in influencing bone cell differentiation and proliferative activity. In addition decorin and biglycan have been implicated in regulating mineral deposition and crystal morphology, whilst decorin has also roles in organic matrix assembly. In order to further assess the role of these SLRPs during bone formation we have initiated studies investigating primary bone cell culture models from rats (bone marrow stromal cells, and bone cells from alveolar bone explants), and identified periods relating to cell proliferation, organic matrix deposition, remodelling of the osteoid, and mineral deposition. Analysis of mRNA levels and the nature of the proteoglycan demonstrated that dermatan sulphate substituted biglycan was expressed during phases relating to cell proliferation, ceased at early matrix deposition, and then biglycan was re-expressed at the onset of mineralisation, but was conjugated to chondroitin sulphate. Decorin was expressed later than biglycan, was associated with early matrix deposition, but then continued to the mineralisation stages. Again, dermatan sulphate-decorin prevailed earlier within osteoid matrix, whilst chondroitin sulphate-decorin predominated later within the mineralizing matrix. The nature of the GAG chain conjugated to SLRP and the timing of its expression would seem to dictate the functions biglycan and decorin play in bone formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Cells and Materials
StatePublished - 2003


  • Biglycan
  • Bone
  • Cell signalling
  • Collagen fibrillogenesis
  • Decorin
  • Mineralisation
  • Osteoblasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology


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