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In cultured monolayers of human articular chondrocytes we have observed an enzyme activity which catalyzes the extracellular conversion of ATP to AMP and PPi. The enzyme was active at very low concentrations of ATP (microM) and exhibited optimal activity at concentrations of ATP of approx. 100 microM. The enzyme was active in intact cells as judged by measurement of the release of the cytoplasmic marker enzyme lactate dehydrogenase. No increase in production of PPi from ATP was observed on mechanically disrupting the cells and no activity was shed into the medium by intact cells. Activity was stable between days 4 and 8 after subculturing the cells and was not affected by the timing of the final medium change prior to assay. Activity was also observed with other nucleoside triphosphates (GTP, CTP and UTP). We suggest that this activity is attributable to ecto-nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphatase. This observation may be important in relation to the pathogenesis of the human disease of chondrocalcinosis in which crystals of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate deposit in articular cartilage.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochim biophys acta

Publication Date





40 - 47


Adenosine Triphosphate, Cartilage, Articular, Cells, Cultured, Cytidine Triphosphate, Diphosphates, Guanosine Triphosphate, Humans, Kinetics, Pyrophosphatases, Uridine Triphosphate