The molecular structure and lubricating activity of lubricin isolated from bovine and human synovial fluids

D. A. Swann, F. H. Silver, H. S. Slayter, W. Stafford, E. Shore

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Lubricin was isolated from bovine ankle, metacarpophalangeal and knee and human knee synovial fluids. The lubricins isolated from the bovine joint fluids had the same amino acid and carbohydrate compositions, but differences were observed in the relative molelular masses. The M(r) values of bovine metacarpophalangeal and ankle lubricin determined by light-scattering measurements were about 200 000, whereas values of 132 000 and 143 000 were obtained for the bovine knee lubricin. The human knee lubricin had a similar carbohydrate composition to bovine knee lubricin except for the higher glucosamine content, and the amino acid composition differed slightly. The human sample had a lower glutamic acid content and a leucine/isoleucine ratio of 2:1 compared with 1:1 in the bovine. The M(r) value of the human knee lubricin (166 000) was also lower than that of the bovine metacarpophalangeal and ankle samples. The M(r) value of the bovine knee lubricin determined by sedimentation-equilibrium measurements was 171 000. The length measurements determined by electron microscopy and also the sedimentation measurements showed considerable polydispersity and indicate that the degree of extension of lubricin molecules can vary. Friction measurements showed that the human knee synovial-fluid lubricin had equivalent lubricating ability in a test system in vitro to that observed for lubricin isolated from normal bovine synovial fluids. The lubricating ability of lubricin was concentration-dependent, and each lubricin sample was able to act as a lubricant in vitro in an equivalent manner to whole synovial fluid at concentrations that are thought to occur in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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