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Dominant-negative mutations in the homopentameric extracellular matrix glycoprotein cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) result in inappropriate intracellular retention of misfolded COMP in the rough endoplasmic reticulum of chondrocytes, causing chondrocyte cell death, which leads to two skeletal dysplasias: pseudoachondroplasia (PSACH) and multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (EDM1). COMP null mice show no adverse effects on normal bone development and growth, suggesting a possible therapy involving removal of COMP mRNA. The goal of this study was to assess the ability of a hammerhead ribozyme (Ribo56, designed against the D469del mutation) to reduce COMP mRNA expression. In COS7 cells transfected with plasmids that overexpress wild-type or mutant COMP mRNA and Ribo56, the ribozyme reduced overexpressed normal COMP mRNA by 46% and mutant COMP mRNA by 56% in a dose-dependent manner. Surprisingly, the use of recombinant adenoviruses to deliver wild-type or mutant COMP mRNA and Ribo56 simultaneously into COS7 cells proved problematic for the activity of the ribozyme to reduce COMP expression. However, in normal human costochondral cells (hCCCs) infected only with adenoviruses expressing Ribo56, expression of endogenous wild-type COMP mRNA was reduced in a dose-dependent manner by 50%. In chondrocytes that contain heterozygous COMP mutations (D469del, G427E and D511Y) that cause PSACH, Ribo56 was more effective at reducing COMP mRNA (up to 70%). These results indicate that Ribo56 is effective at reducing mutant and wild-type COMP levels in cells and suggests a possible mode of therapy to reduce the mutant protein load.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





686 - 695


Animals, COS Cells, Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein, Cell Line, Cells, Cultured, Cercopithecus aethiops, Chondrocytes, Extracellular Matrix Proteins, Genetic Therapy, Glycoproteins, Humans, Matrilin Proteins, Mice, RNA, Catalytic