Indexed on: 13 Apr '11Published on: 13 Apr '11Published in: Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
CCN2, a classical member of the CCN family of matricellular proteins, is a key molecule that conducts cartilage development in a harmonized manner through novel molecular actions. During vertebrate development, all cartilage is primarily formed by a process of mesenchymal condensation, while CCN2 is induced to promote this process. Afterwards, cartilage develops into several subtypes with different fates and missions, in which CCN2 plays its proper roles according to the corresponding microenvironments. The history of CCN2 in cartilage and bone began with its re-discovery in the growth cartilage in long bones, which determines the skeletal size through the process of endochondral ossification. CCN2 promotes physiological developmental processes not only in the growth cartilage but also in the other types of cartilages, i.e., Meckel's cartilage representing temporary cartilage without autocalcification, articular cartilage representing hyaline cartilage with physical stiffness, and auricular cartilage representing elastic cartilage. Together with its significant role in intramembranous ossification, CCN2 is regarded as a conductor of skeletogenesis. During cartilage development, the CCN2 gene is dynamically regulated to yield stage-specific production of CCN2 proteins at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. New functional aspects of known biomolecules have been uncovered during the course of investigating these regulatory systems in chondrocytes. Since CCN2 promotes integrated regeneration as well as generation (=development) of these tissues, its utility in regenerative therapy targeting chondrocytes and osteoblasts is indicated, as has already been supported by experimental evidence obtained in vivo.