Conformational Mechanics, Adsorption, and Normal Force Interactions of Lubricin and Hyaluronic Acid on Model Surfaces<sup>†</sup>
2008-02-19T00:00:00Z (GMT) by
Glycoproteins, such as lubricin, and hyaluronic acid (HA) play a prominent role in the boundary lubrication mechanism in diarthrodial joints. Although many studies have tried to elucidate the lubrication mechanisms of articular cartilage, the molecular details of how lubricin and HA interact with cartilage surfaces and mediate their interaction still remain poorly understood. Here we used model substrates, functionalized with self-assembled monolayers terminating in hydroxyl or methyl groups, (1) to determine the effect of surface chemistry on lubricin and HA adsorption using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and (2) to study normal force interactions between these surfaces as a function of lubricin and HA concentration using colloidal probe microscopy. We found that lubricin is amphiphilic and adsorbed strongly onto both methyl- and hydroxyl-terminated surfaces. On hydrophobic surfaces, lubricin likely adopts a compact, looplike conformation in which its hydrophobic domains at the N and C termini serve as surface anchors. On hydrophilic surfaces, lubricin likely adsorbs anywhere along its hydrophilic central domain and adopts, with increasing solution concentration, an extended tail-like conformation. Overall, lubricin develops strong repulsive interactions when compressing two surfaces into contact. Furthermore, upon surface separation, adhesion occurs between the surfaces as a result of molecular bridging and chain disentanglement. This behavior is in contrast to that of HA, which does not adsorb appreciably on either of the model surfaces and does not develop significant repulsive interactions. Adhesive forces, particularly between the hydrophobic surfaces, are large and not appreciably affected by HA. For a mixture of lubricin and HA, we observed slightly larger adsorptions and repulsions than those found for lubricin alone. Our experiments suggest that this interaction depends on unspecific physical rather than chemical interactions between lubricin and HA. We speculate that in mediating interactions at the cartilage surface, an important role of lubricin, possibly in conjunction with HA, is one of providing a protective coating on cartilage surfaces that maintains the contacting surfaces in a sterically repulsive state.
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