Proteoglycan link proteins were isolated from human articular cartilage obtained from normal and osteoarthritic femoral heads and purified to homogeneity employing a method previously described by this laboratory. The link proteins were analysed for amino acid composition, molecular weight on sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gels, and ability to stabilise proteoglycan aggregates. The results of these studies were compared with those obtained with bovine link proteins. Two link proteins were identified in the purified fraction from normal and osteoarthritic human cartilage with apparent molecular weights of 54 000 (link 1) and 48 000 (link 2). Functionally the link proteins, isolated from osteoarthritic and normal cartilage, were indistinguishable as measured by their ability to stabilise aggregate. The amino acid compositions of normal and osteoarthritic link proteins were also found to be similar to each other but significantly different from the amino acid composition reported for the bovine link proteins. The quantities of these proteins in extracts from normal and diseased tissue were similar, as was the ratio of link protein 1 to link protein 2.
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