Transgenic mice were prepared with inactive alleles for procollagen N-proteinase (ADAMTS-2; where ADAMTS stands for a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin repeats). Homozygous mice were grossly normal at birth, but after 1-2 months they developed thin skin that tore after gentle handling. Although the gene was inactivated, a large fraction of the N-propeptides of type I procollagen in skin and the N-propeptides of type II procollagen in cartilage were cleaved. Therefore the results suggested the tissues contained one or more additional enzymes that slowly process the proteins. Electron microscopy did not reveal any defects in the morphology of collagen fibrils in newborn mice. However, in two-month-old mice, the collagen fibrils in skin were seen as bizarre curls in cross-section and the mean diameters of the fibrils were approx. half of the controls. Although a portion of the N-propeptides of type II procollagen in cartilage were not cleaved, no defects in the morphology of the fibrils were seen by electron microscopy or by polarized-light microscopy. Female homozygous mice were fertile, but male mice were sterile with a marked decrease in testicular sperm. Therefore the results indicated that ADAMTS-2 plays an essential role in the maturation of spermatogonia.
- The Biochemical Society, London © 2001