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Title: Biochemical and proteomic characterization of alkaptonuric chondrocytes
Authors: Braconi, Daniela 
Bernardini, Giulia 
Bianchini, C.
Laschi, Marcella
Millucci, Lia 
Amato, Loredana
Tinti, Laura
Serchi, Tommaso
Chellini, Federico
Spreafico, Adriano
Santucci, Annalisa 
Issue Date: 2012
Project: None 
Alkaptonuria (AKU) is a rare genetic disease associated with the accumulation of homogentisic acid (HGA) and its oxidized/polymerized products which leads to the deposition of melanin-like pigments (ochronosis) in connective tissues. Although numerous case reports have described ochronosis in joints, little is known on the molecular mechanisms leading to such a phenomenon. For this reason, we characterized biochemically chondrocytes isolated from the ochronotic cartilage of AKU patients. Based on the macroscopic appearance of the ochronotic cartilage, two sub-populations were identified: cells coming from the black portion of the cartilage were referred to as ‘black’ AKU chondrocytes, while those coming from the white portion were referred to as ‘white’ AKU chondrocytes. Notably, both AKU chondrocytic types were characterized by increased apoptosis, NO release and levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Transmission electron microscopy also revealed that intracellular ochronotic pigment deposition was common to both ‘white’ and ‘black’ AKU cells. We then undertook a proteomic and redox-proteomic analysis of AKU chondrocytes which revealed profound alterations in the levels of proteins involved in cell defence, protein folding and cell organization. An increased post-translational oxidation of proteins, which also involved high molecular weight protein aggregates, was found to be particularly relevant in ‘black’ AKU chondrocytes.
ISSN: 0021-9541
DOI: 10.1002/jcp.24033
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