Fibrillar collagens are well known for their links to human diseases, with which all have been associated except for the two most recently identified fibrillar collagens, type XXIV collagen and type XXVII collagen. To assess functions and potential disease phenotypes of type XXVII collagen, we examined its roles in zebrafish embryonic and post-embryonic development.
We identified two type XXVII collagen genes in zebrafish, col27a1a and col27a1b. Both col27a1a and col27a1b were expressed in notochord and cartilage in the embryo and early larva. To determine sites of type XXVII collagen function, col27a1a and col27a1b were knocked down using morpholino antisense oligonucleotides. Knockdown of col27a1a singly or in conjunction with col27a1b resulted in curvature of the notochord at early stages and formation of scoliotic curves as well as dysmorphic vertebrae at later stages. These defects were accompanied by abnormal distributions of cells and protein localization in the notochord, as visualized by transmission electron microscopy, as well as delayed vertebral mineralization as detected histologically.
Together, our findings indicate a key role for type XXVII collagen in notochord morphogenesis and axial skeletogenesis and suggest a possible human disease phenotype.
Alpha 1 (XI) collagen (Col11a1) is essential for normal skeletal development. Mutations in Col11a1 cause Marshall and Stickler syndromes, both of which are characterized by craniofacial abnormalities, nearsightedness and hearing deficiencies. Despite its link to human diseases, few studies have described factors that control Col11a1 transcription. We previously identified Col11a1 as a differentially expressed gene in Lef1-suppressed MC3T3 preosteoblasts. Here we report that Lef1 activates the Col11a1 promoter. This activation is dependent upon the DNA binding domain of Lef1, but does not require the ²-catenin interaction domain, suggesting that it is not responsive to Wnt signals. Targeted suppression of Col11a1 with an antisense morpholino accelerated osteoblastic differentiation and mineralization in C2C12 cells, similar to what was observed in Lef1-suppressed MC3T3 cells. Moreover incubation with a purified Col11a1 N-terminal fragment, V1B, prevented alkaline phosphatase expression in MC3T3 and C2C12 cells. These results suggest that Lef1 is an activator of the Col11a1 promoter and that Col11a1 suppresses terminal osteoblast differentiation.
Lef1; Wnt; beta-catenin; collagen 11a1; VO; V1b; osteoblasts
Whereas mutations affecting the helical domain of type I procollagen classically cause Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), helical mutations near the amino (N)-proteinase cleavage site have been suggested to result in a mixed OI/Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)-phenotype.
We performed biochemical and molecular analysis of type I (pro-) collagen in a cohort of seven patients referred with a clinical diagnosis of EDS and showing only subtle signs of OI. Transmission electron microscopy of the dermis was available for one patient.
All of these patients harboured a COL1A1 / COL1A2 mutation residing within the most N-terminal part of the type I collagen helix. These mutations affect the rate of type I collagen N-propeptide cleavage and disturb normal collagen fibrillogenesis. Importantly, patients with this type of mutation do not show a typical OI phenotype but mainly present as EDS patients displaying severe joint hyperlaxity, soft and hyperextensible skin, abnormal wound healing, easy bruising, and sometimes signs of arterial fragility. In addition, they show subtle signs of OI including blue sclerae, relatively short stature and osteopenia or fractures.
Recognition of this distinct phenotype is important for accurate genetic counselling, clinical management and surveillance, particularly in relation to the potential risk for vascular rupture associated with these mutations. Because these patients present clinical overlap with other EDS subtypes, biochemical collagen analysis is necessary to establish the correct diagnosis.
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; Osteogenesis Imperfecta; Type I collagen; Arterial fragility; Genotype; Phenotype
Collagens are members of one of the most important families of structural proteins in higher organisms. There are 28 types of collagens encoded by 43 genes in humans that fall into several different functional protein classes. Mutations in the major fibrillar collagen genes lead to osteogenesis imperfecta (COL1A1 and COL1A2 encoding the chains of Type I collagen), chondrodysplasias (COL2A1 encoding the chains of Type II collagen), and vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (COL3A1 encoding the chains of Type III collagen). Over the last two decades, mutations in these collagen genes have been catalogued, in the hopes to understand the molecular etiology of diseases caused by these mutations, characterize the genotype-phenotype relationships, and develop robust models predicting the molecular and clinical outcomes. To better achieve these goals, it is necessary to understand the natural patterns of variation in collagen genes in human populations. We screened exons, flanking intronic regions, and conserved non-coding regions for variations in COL1A1, COL1A2, COL2A1 and COL3A1 in 48 individuals from each of four ethnically diverse populations. We identified 459 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), more than half of which were novel and not found in public databases. Of the 52 SNPs found in coding regions, 15 caused amino acid substitutions while 37 did not. Although the four collagens have similar gene and protein structures, they have different molecular evolutionary characteristics. For example, COL1A1 appears to have been under substantially stronger negative selection than the rest. Phylogenetic analysis also suggests that the four genes have very different evolutionary histories among the different ethnic groups. Our observations suggest that the study of collagen mutations and their relationships with disease phenotypes should be performed in the context of the genetic background of the subjects.
Tendons are composed of fibroblasts and collagen fibrils. The fibrils are organized uniaxially and grouped together into fibers. Collagen VI is a non-fibrillar collagen expressed in developing and adult tendons. Human collagen VI mutations result in muscular dystrophy, joint hyperlaxity and contractures. The purpose of this study is to determine the functional roles of collagen VI in tendon matrix assembly. During tendon development, collagen VI was expressed throughout the extracellular matrix, but enriched around fibroblasts and their processes. To analyze the functional roles of collagen VI a mouse model with a targeted inactivation of Col6a1 gene was utilized. Ultrastructural analysis of Col6a1−/− versus wild type tendons demonstrated disorganized extracellular micro-domains and collagen fibers in the Col6a1−/− tendon. In the col6a1−/− tendon, fibril structure and diameter distribution was abnormal compared to wild type controls. Col6a1−/− fibrils had smaller diameters and the diameter distributions were shifted significantly toward the smaller diameters. An analysis of fibril density (number/μm2) demonstrated an ~2.5 fold increase in the Col6a1−/− versus wild type tendons. In addition, the fibril arrangement and structure was aberrant in the peri-cellular regions of Col6a1−/− tendons with frequent very large fibrils and twisted fibrils observed restricted to this region. The biomechanical properties were analyzed in mature tendons. A significant decrease in cross sectional area was observed. The percent relaxation, maximum load, maximum stress, stiffness and modulus were analyzed and Col6a1−/− tendons demonstrated a significant reduction in maximum load and stiffness compared to wild type tendons. An increase in matrix metalloproteinase activity was suggested in the absence of collagen VI. This suggests alterations in tenocyte expression due to disruption of cell-matrix interactions. The changes in expression may result in alterations in the peri-cellular environment. In addition, the absence of collagen VI may alter the sequestering of regulatory molecules such as leucine rich proteoglycans. These changes would result in dysfunctional regulation of tendon fibrillogenesis indirectly mediated by collagen VI.
Collagen VI; Tendon; Development; Fibrillogenesis; Tendon Biomechanics; Collagen VI-null mouse
The Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a heterogeneous group of inherited connective tissue disorders characterised by skin hyperextensibility, joint hypermobility, easy bruising, and cutaneous fragility. Nine discrete clinical subtypes have been classified. We have investigated the molecular defect in a patient with clinical features of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes types I/II and VII. Electron microscopy of skin tissue indicated abnormal collagen fibrillogenesis with longitudinal sections showing a marked disruption of fibril packing giving very irregular outlines to transverse sections. Analysis of the collagens produced by cultured fibroblasts showed that the type V collagen had a population of alpha 1 (V) chains shorter than normal. Peptide mapping suggested a deletion within the triple helical domain. RTPCR amplification of mRNA covering the whole of this domain of COL5A1 showed a deletion of 54 bp. Although six Gly-X-Y triplets were lost, the essential triplet amino acid sequence and C-propeptide structure were maintained allowing mutant protein chains to be incorporated into triple helices. Genomic DNA analysis identified a de novo G+3-->T transversion in a 5' splice site of one COL5A1 allele. This mutation is analogous to mutations causing exon skipping in the major collagen genes, COL1A1, COL1A2, and COL3A1, identified in several cases of osteogenesis imperfecta and EDS type IV. These observations support the hypothesis that type V, although quantitatively a minor collagen, has a critical role in the formation of the fibrillar collagen matrix.
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a heterogeneous group of connective tissue disorders. Recently mutations have been found in the genes for type V collagen in a small number of people with the most common forms of EDS, types I and II. Here we characterise a COL5A2 mutation in an EDS II family. Cultured dermal fibroblasts obtained from an affected subject synthesised abnormal type V collagen. Haplotype analysis excluded COL5A1 but was concordant with COL5A2 as the disease locus. The entire open reading frame of the COL5A2 cDNA was directly sequenced and a single base mutation detected. It substituted a glycine residue within the triple helical domain (G934R) of alpha2(V) collagen, typical of the dominant negative changes in other collagens, which cause various other inherited connective tissue disorders. All three affected family members possessed the single base change, which was absent in 50 normal chromosomes.
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is an excellent model organism for the study of vertebrate development including skeletogenesis. Studies of mammalian cartilage formation were greatly advanced through the use of a cartilage specific regulatory element of the Collagen type II alpha 1 (Col2a1) gene. In an effort to isolate such an element in zebrafish, we compared the expression of two col2a1 homologues and found that expression of col2a1b, a previously uncharacterized zebrafish homologue, only partially overlaps with col2a1a. We focused our analysis on col2a1a, as it is expressed in both the stacked chondrocytes and the perichondrium. By comparing the genomic sequence surrounding the predicted transcriptional start site of col2a1a among several species of teleosts we identified a small highly conserved sequence (R2) located 1.7 kb upstream of the presumptive transcriptional initiation site. Interestingly, neither the sequence nor location of this element is conserved between teleost and mammalian Col2a1. We generated transient and stable transgenic lines with just the R2 element or the entire 1.7 kb fragment 5’ of the transcriptional initiation site. The identified regulatory elements enable the tracking of cellular development in various tissues by driving robust reporter expression in craniofacial cartilage, ear, notochord, floor plate, hypochord and fins in a pattern similar to the expression of endogenous col2a1a. Using a reporter gene driven by the R2 regulatory element, we analyzed the morphogenesis of the notochord sheath cells as they withdraw from the stack of initially uniform cells and encase the inflating vacuolated notochord cells. Finally, we show that like endogenous col2a1a, craniofacial expression of these reporter constructs depends on Sox9a transcription factor activity. At the same time, notochord expression is maintained after Sox9a knockdown, suggesting that other factors can activate expression through the identified regulatory element in this tissue.
Collagen; Cranial Sutures; Growth Plate; Intervertebral Disc; Semicircular Canals; Weberian apparatus
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome encompasses a group of inherited disorders of connective tissue, some of which are characterised by abnormalities of collagen metabolism. The chromosomal location, identified genes and biochemical defects, inheritance pattern, and clinical features for the various known subtypes are outlined. Prenatal diagnosis is possible for types IV, VI, VIIA1, and VIIA2. An unusual presentation of type IV Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in a 16 year old boy with an anterior myocardial infarction resulting from dissection of the left anterior descending coronary artery is reported here. A clinical diagnosis of type IV Ehlers-Danlos syndrome was made subsequently and confirmed by the reduced production, impaired secretion, and abnormally slow electrophoretic migration of type III collagen, indicating an underlying mutation in the COL3A1 gene. This patient represents the first case of type IV Ehlers-Danlos syndrome with symptomatic coronary artery dissection.
It has recently been discovered that Collagen III, the encoded protein of the type IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) gene, is one of the major constituents of the pial basement membrane (BM) and serves as the ligand for GPR56. Mutations in GPR56 cause a severe human brain malformation called bilateral frontoparietal polymicrogyria, in which neurons transmigrate through the BM causing severe mental retardation and frequent seizures. To further characterize the brain phenotype of Col3a1 knockout mice, we performed a detailed histological analysis. We observed a cobblestone-like cortical malformation, with BM breakdown and marginal zone heterotopias in Col3a1−/− mouse brains. Surprisingly, the pial BM appeared intact at early stages of development but starting as early as embryonic day (E) 11.5, prominent BM defects were observed and accompanied by neuronal overmigration. Although collagen III is expressed in meningeal fibroblasts (MFs), Col3a1−/− MFs present no obvious defects. Furthermore, the expression and posttranslational modification of α-dystroglycan was undisturbed in Col3a1−/− mice. Based on the previous finding that mutations in COL3A1 cause type IV EDS, our study indicates a possible common pathological pathway linking connective tissue diseases and brain malformations.
COL11A1 is a large complex gene around 250 kb in length and consisting of 68 exons. Pathogenic mutations in the gene can result in Stickler syndrome, Marshall syndrome or Fibrochondrogenesis. Many of the mutations resulting in either Stickler or Marshall syndrome alter splice sites and result in exon skipping, which because of the exon structure of collagen genes usually leaves the message in-frame. The mutant protein then exerts a dominant negative effect as it co-assembles with other collagen gene products. To date only one large deletion of 40 kb in the COL11A1, which was detected by RT-PCR, has been characterized. However, commonly used screening protocols, utilizing genomic amplification and exon sequencing, are unlikely to detect such large deletions. Consequently the frequency of this type of mutation is unknown.
We have used Multiplex Ligation-Dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA) in conjunction with exon amplification and sequencing, to analyze patients with clinical features of Stickler syndrome, and have detected six novel deletions that were not found by exon sequencing alone.
Exon deletions appear to represent a significant proportion of type 2 Stickler syndrome. This observation was previously unknown and so diagnostic screening of COL11A1 should include assays capable of detecting both large and small deletions, in addition to exon sequencing.
COL11A1; MLPA; Molecular analysis; Stickler syndrome
Heterozygous mutations in the COL1A1 or COL1A2 gene encoding the α1 and α2 chain of type I collagen generally cause either osteogenesis imperfecta or the arthrochalasis form of Ehlers‐Danlos syndrome (EDS). Homozygous or compound heterozygous COL1A2 mutations resulting in complete deficiency of the proα2(I) collagen chains are extremely rare and have been reported in only a few patients, albeit with variable phenotypic outcome.
The clinical features of the proband, a 6 year old boy, were recorded. Analysis of proα and α‐collagen chains was performed by SDS‐polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis using the Laemmli buffer system. Single stranded conformation polymorphism analysis of the proband's DNA was also carried out.
In this report we show that complete lack of proα2(I) collagen chains can present as a phenotype reminiscent of mild hypermobility EDS during childhood.
Biochemical analysis of collagens extracted from skin fibroblasts is a powerful tool to detect the subset of patients with complete absence of proα2(I) collagen chains, and in these patients, careful cardiac follow up with ultrasonography is highly recommended because of the risk for cardiac valvular problems in adulthood.
collagen; Ehlers‐Danlos syndrome; joint hypermobility; homozygous mutation
Lpar3 is upregulated in the preimplantation uterus, and deletion of Lpar3 leads to delayed uterine receptivity in mice. Microarray analysis revealed that there was higher expression of Col3a1 and Col6a3 in the Preimplantation Day 3.5 Lpar3−/− uterus compared to Day 3.5 wild-type (WT) uterus. Since extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling is indispensable during embryo implantation, and dynamic spatiotemporal alteration of specific collagen types is part of this process, this study aimed to characterize the expression of four main uterine collagen types: fibril-forming collagen (COL) I and COL III, basement membrane COL IV, and microfibrillar COL VI in the peri-implantation WT and Lpar3−/− uterus. An observed delay of COL III and COL VI clearance in the Lpar3−/− uterus may be associated with higher preimplantation expression of Col3a1 and Col6a3. There was also delayed clearance of COL I and delayed deposition of COL IV in the decidual zone in the Lpar3−/− uterus. These changes were different from the effects of 17beta-estradiol and progesterone on uterine collagen expression in ovariectomized WT uterus, indicating that the altered collagen expression in Lpar3−/− uterus is unlikely to be a result of alterations in ovarian hormones. Decreased expression of several genes encoding matrix-degrading metallo- and serine proteinases was observed in the Lpar3−/− uterus. These results demonstrate that pathways downstream of LPA3 are involved in the dynamic remodeling of ECM in the peri-implantation uterus.
Delayed implantation in Lpar3−/− mice is associated with altered spatiotemporal expression of collagen types I, III, IV, and VI in the peri-implantation uterus and with reduced mRNA levels of several genes involved in collagen turnover in Day 3.5 uterus.
collagen types I; III; IV; and VI; decidua; endometrium; female reproductive tract; implantation; lysophosphatidic acid receptor 3; pregnancy; uterus
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a highly lethal disease in which a prominent desmoplastic reaction is a defining characteristic. Fibrillar collagens, such as collagen I and to a lesser extent, collagen III and V comprise the majority of this stromal fibrosis. Type VI collagen (COL6) forms a microfibrillar network associated with type I collagen fibrils. The expression of COL6 has been linked to inflammation and survival. Importantly, tumor-specific alternative splicing in COL6A3 has been identified in several cancers by genome exon arrays. We evaluated the expression and localization of COL6A3 in PDA and premalignant lesions and explored the presence of alternative splicing events.
We analyzed paired PDA-normal (n=18), IPMN (n=5), pancreatic cystadenoma (n=5), and eight PDA cell lines with RT-PCR, using unique primers that identify total COL6A3 gene and alternative splicing sites in several of its exons. Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry were used to analyze the expression levels and localization of COL6A3 protein in the different lesions, and in two animal models of PDA.
COL6A3 protein levels were significantly upregulated in 77% of the paired PDA-adjacent tissue examined. COL6A3 was mainly present in the desmoplastic stroma of PDA, with high deposition around the malignant ducts and in between the sites of stromal fatty infiltration. Analysis of the COL6A3 splice variants showed tumor-specific consistent inclusion of exons 3 and 6 in 17 of the 18 (94%) paired PDA-adjacent tissues. Inclusion of exon 4 was exclusively tumor-specific, with barely detectable expression in the adjacent tissues. IPMN and pancreatic cystadenomas showed no expression of any of the examined exons. Total COL6A3 mRNA and exon 6 were identified in six PDA cell lines, but only two cell lines (MIA PACA-2 and ASPC-1) expressed exons 3 and 4. In both the xenograft and transgenic models of PDA, COL6A3 immunoreactivity was present in the stroma and some PDA cells.
We describe, for the first time, a dynamic process of tumor-specific alternative splicing in several exons of stromal COL6A3. Alternatively spliced proteins may contribute to the etiology or progression of cancer and may serve as markers for cancer diagnosis. Identification of COL6A3 isoforms as PDA-specific provides the basis for future studies to explore the oncogenic and diagnostic potential of these alternative splicing events.
pancreatic cancer; COL6A3; stroma; microenvironment
Barx1 modulates cellular adhesion molecule expression and participates in specification of tooth-types, but little is understood of its role in patterning the pharyngeal arches. We examined barx1 expression during zebrafish craniofacial development and performed a functional analysis using morpholino oligonucleotides. Barx1 is expressed in the rhombencephalic neural crest, the pharyngeal arches, the pectoral fin buds and the gut in contrast to its paralogue barx2, which is most prominently expressed in the arch epithelium. Additionally, barx1 transient expression was observed in the posterior lateral line ganglia and developing trunk/tail. We show that Barx1 is necessary for proliferation of the arch osteochondrogenic progenitors, and that morphants exhibit diminished and dysmorphic arch cartilage elements due to reductions in chondrocyte differentiation and condensation. Attenuation of Barx1 results in lost arch expression of osteochondrogenic markers col2a1, runx2a and chondromodulin, as well as odontogenic marker dlx2b. Further, loss of barx1 positively influenced gdf5 and chordin, markers of jaw joint patterning. FGF signaling is required for maintaining barx1 expression, and that ectopic BMP4 induces expression of barx1 in the intermediate region of the second pharyngeal arch. Together, these results indicate an essential role for barx1 at early stages of chondrogenesis within the developing zebrafish viscerocranium.
Barx1; pharyngogenesis; viscerocranium; zebrafish; pharyngeal arches; neural crest; chondrogenesis; cartilage; BMP; FGF
The features of a 32 year old woman with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type VIIB and affected members of her family, resulting from a mutation in one COL1A2 allele, were studied. Her dermal type I collagen contained alpha 2(I) chains and mutant pN-alpha 2(I) chains in which the amino-terminal propeptide remained attached to the alpha 2(I) chain. She was heterozygous for an AG-->AC mutation at the splice acceptor site of intron 5 of the COL1A2 gene. The mutation activated a cryptic AG splice acceptor site corresponding to positions +14 and +15 of exon 6 of the COL1A2 gene. In contrast to previous reports only five, rather than all 18, amino acids encoded by exon 6 were deleted in the proband. The deleted peptide removed the amino-proteinase cleavage site, but not the nearby lysine cross linking site in the amino-telopeptide of the alpha 2(I) chain. She was born with bilateral hip dislocations, knee subluxations, and generalised joint hypermobility. Bilateral inguinal herniae and an umbilical hernia were present at birth. Facial features included a depressed nasal bridge with prominent paranasal folds. The skin was soft, moderately hyperelastic, and sagged over the face. Skin fragility and easy bruising were apparent from childhood. Skin wounds healed slowly and with broad, paper thin scars. Throughout her life, she had multiple fractures of the small bones of her hands and feet following moderate trauma. Electron microscopy of the proband's dermis as well as deep fascia and hip joint capsule from her affected brother showed that collagen fibrils in transverse section were nearly circular but with irregular margins. Light microscopy of bone from her affected brother and son showed normal Haversian systems and lamellar bone. All of these tissues contained approximately equal amounts of the normal and mutant alpha2(I) chains. The findings of this study confirm that loss of the amino-proteinase cleavage site of the pro alpha2(I) collagen chains, owing to anomalous splicing of exon 6 sequences in the conversion of pre-mRNA to mRNA, produces the clinical features of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type VIIB. The history of frequent fractures found in this family is atypical and indicates an overlap with osteogenesis imperfecta.
Classic Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (cEDS) is a rare autosomal dominant connective tissue disorder that is primarily characterized by skin hyperextensibility, abnormal wound healing/atrophic scars, and joint hypermobility. A recent study demonstrated that more than 90% of patients who satisfy all of these major criteria harbor a type V collagen (COLLV) defect.
This cohort included 40 patients with cEDS who were clinically diagnosed according to the Villefranche nosology. The flowchart that was adopted for mutation detection consisted of sequencing the COL5A1 gene and, if no mutation was detected, COL5A2 analysis. In the negative patients the presence of large genomic rearrangements in COL5A1 was investigated using MLPA, and positive results were confirmed via SNP-array analysis.
We report the clinical and molecular characterization of 40 patients from 28 families, consisting of 14 pediatric patients and 26 adults. A family history of cEDS was present in 9 patients. The majority of the patients fulfilled all the major diagnostic criteria for cEDS; atrophic scars were absent in 2 females, skin hyperextensibility was not detected in a male and joint hypermobility was negative in 8 patients (20% of the entire cohort). Wide inter- and intra-familial phenotypic heterogeneity was observed. We identified causal mutations with a detection rate of approximately 93%. In 25/28 probands, COL5A1 or COL5A2 mutations were detected. Twenty-one mutations were in the COL5A1 gene, 18 of which were novel (2 recurrent). Of these, 16 mutations led to nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) and to COLLV haploinsufficiency and 5 mutations were structural. Two novel COL5A2 splice mutations were detected in patients with the most severe phenotypes. The known p. (Arg312Cys) mutation in the COL1A1 gene was identified in one patient with vascular-like cEDS.
Our findings highlight that the three major criteria for cEDS are useful and sufficient for cEDS clinical diagnosis in the large majority of the patients. The borderline patients for whom these criteria fail can be diagnosed when minor signs of connective tissue diseases and family history are present and when genetic testing reveals a defect in COLLV. Our data also confirm that COL5A1 and COL5A2 are the major, if not the only, genes involved in cEDS.
Classic Ehlers–Danlos syndrome; COL5A1; COL5A2; COL1A1; MLPA; Diagnostic flowchart
Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a rare genetic disorder resulting from mutations in the α-1 chain of type III collagen (COL3A1) and manifesting as tissue fragility with spontaneous rupture of the bowel, gravid uterus, or large or medium arteries. The heterozygous Col3a1 knockout mouse was investigated as a model for this disease. The collagen content in the abdominal aorta of heterozygotes was reduced, and functional testing revealed diminishing wall strength of the aorta in these mice. Colons were grossly and histologically normal, but reduced strength and increased compliance of the wall were found in heterozygotes via pressure testing. Although mice demonstrated no life-threatening clinical signs or gross lesions of vascular subtype Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type IV, thorough histological examination of the aorta of heterozygous mice revealed the presence of a spectrum of lesions similar to those observed in human patients. Lesions increased in number and severity with age (0/5 [0%] in 2-month-old males vs 9/9 [100%] in 14-month-old males, P < .05) and were more common in male than female mice (23/26 [88.5%] vs 14/30 [46.7%] in 9- to 21-month-old animals, P < .05). Haploinsufficiency for Col3a1 in mice recapitulates features of vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in humans and can be used as an experimental model.
Col3a1; mouse model; vascular Ehlers-Danlos; haploinsufficient
Stickler syndrome is a connective tissue disorder characterized by ocular, skeletal, orofacial and auditory defects. It is caused by mutations in different collagen genes, namely COL2A1, COL11A1 and COL11A2 (autosomal dominant inheritance), and COL9A1 and COL9A2 (autosomal recessive inheritance). The auditory phenotype in Stickler syndrome is inconsistently reported. Therefore we performed a systematic review of the literature to give an up-to-date overview of hearing loss in Stickler syndrome, and correlated it with the genotype.
English-language literature was reviewed through searches of PubMed and Web of Science, in order to find relevant articles describing auditory features in Stickler patients, along with genotype. Prevalences of hearing loss are calculated and correlated with the different affected genes and type of mutation.
313 patients (102 families) individually described in 46 articles were included. Hearing loss was found in 62.9%, mostly mild to moderate when reported. Hearing impairment was predominantly sensorineural (67.8%). Conductive (14.1%) and mixed (18.1%) hearing loss was primarily found in young patients or patients with a palatal defect. Overall, mutations in COL11A1 (82.5%) and COL11A2 (94.1%) seem to be more frequently associated with hearing impairment than mutations in COL2A1 (52.2%).
Hearing impairment in patients with Stickler syndrome is common. Sensorineural hearing loss predominates, but also conductive hearing loss, especially in children and patients with a palatal defect, may occur. The distinct disease-causing collagen genes are associated with a different prevalence of hearing impairment, but still large phenotypic variation exists. Regular auditory follow-up is strongly advised, particularly because many Stickler patients are visually impaired.
Stickler syndrome; Arthro-ophthalmopathy; Collagen; COL2A1; Hearing loss; Cleft palate
Ehlers Danlos syndrome (EDS) athrocalasia type (type VII), is characterized by joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility and tissue fragility. No heart involvement has been reported. Two forms have been described: type VII A and VII B. The abnormally processed collagen α2(I) and the skipping of the exon 6 in COL1A2 gene are typically detected in EDS type VII B. We describe a seven-year old female, with a phenotype consistent with EDS type VII B and a diagnosis further confirmed by biochemical and molecular analyses. Cardiac ultrasound showed normal data in the first year of life. When she was 5 years old, the patient developed mitral valve regurgitation, and aortic and tricuspidal insufficiency at 7 years of age. To our knowledge, this is the first report of cardiac valvular involvement in EDS VII B. This feature probably has been underreported for the limited follow-up of the patients. Echocardiography might be warranted in the clinical assessment of EDS VII patients.
Ehlers Danlos syndrome type VII B; Macrocephaly; Cardiac valve regurgitation
Collagen XXIV (Col24α1) is a recently discovered fibrillar collagen. It is known that mouse Col24α1 is predominantly expressed in the forming skeleton of the mouse embryo, as well as in the trabecular bone and periosteum of the newborn mouse. However, the role and mechanism of Col24α1 in osteoblast differentiation and mineralization remains unclear. By analyzing the expression pattern of Col24α1, we confirmed that it is primarily expressed in bone tissues, and this expression gradually increased concomitant with the progression of osteoblast differentiation. Through the use of a lentivirus vector-mediated interference system, silencing Col24α1 expression in MC3T3-E1 murine preosteoblastic cells resulted in significant inhibition of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, cell mineralization, and the expression of osteoblast marker genes such as runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2), osteocalcin (OCN), ALP, and type I collagen (Col I). Subsequent overexpression not only rescued the deficiency in osteoblast differentiation from Col24α1 silenced cells, but also enhanced osteoblastic differentiation in control cells. We further revealed that Col24α1 interacts with integrin β3, and silencing Col24α1 up-regulated the expression of Smad7 during osteoblast differentiation while at the same time inhibiting the phosphorylation of the Smad2/3 complex. These results suggest that Col24α1 imparts some of its regulatory control on osteoblast differentiation and mineralization at least partially through interaction with integrin β3 and the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) /Smads signaling pathway.
COLLAGEN XXIV; Osteoblast differentiation; Bone mineralization; SMAD; Integrin.
We have used a high frequency site polymorphism within the human pro-alpha 1(II) collagen gene (COL2A1) in order to examine the segregation of this gene within a large pedigree with type II Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). The EDS gene and the collagen gene segregate independently within the pedigree and therefore COL2A1 can be excluded as the mutant locus.
Tendon injuries are major orthopaedic problems that worsen as the population ages. Type-I (Col1) and type-II (Col2) collagens play important roles in tendon midsubstance and tendon-to-bone insertion healing, respectively. Using double transgenic mice, this study aims to spatiotemporally monitor Col1 and Col2 gene expression, histology and biomechanics up to 8 weeks following a full-length patellar tendon injury. Gene expression and histology were analyzed weekly for up to 5 weeks while mechanical properties were measured at 1, 2, 5, and 8 weeks. At week 1, the healing region displayed loose granulation tissue with little Col1 expression. Col1 expression peaked at 2 weeks, but the ECM was highly disorganized and hypercellular. By 3 weeks, Col1 expression had reduced and by 5 weeks, the ECM was generally aligned along the tendon axis. Col2 expression was not seen in the healing midsubstance or insertion at any time point. The biomechanics of the healing tissue was inadequate at all time points, achieving ultimate loads and stiffnesses of 48% and 63% of normal values by 8 weeks. Future studies will further characterize the cells within the healing midsubstance and insertion using tenogenic markers and compare these results to those of tendon cells during normal development.
tendon; collagen; murine; transgenic; healing
Capillary plexuses form during both vasculogenesis and angiogenesis and are remodeled into mature vessel types and patterns which are delicately orchestrated with the sizes and shapes of other tissues and organs. We isolated a zebrafish mutation named prp (for persistent plexus) that causes persistent formation of vascular plexuses in the caudal fins and consequent mispatterning of bony fin rays and the fin shape. Detailed analyses revealed that the prp mutation causes a significant reduction in the size and dramatic structural defects in collagen II-rich extracellular matrices called actinotrichia of both embryonic finfolds and adult fins. prp was mapped to chromosome 19 and found to encode the zebrafish collagen9α1 (col9α1) gene which is abundantly expressed in developing finfolds. A point mutation resulting in a leucine-to-histidine change was detected in the thrombospondin domain of the col9α1 gene in prp. Morpholino-mediated knockdown of col9α1 phenocopied the prp small-finfold phenotype in wild-type embryos, and an injection of plasmids containing the col9α1 cDNA into prp embryos locally restored the finfold size. Furthermore, we found that osteoblasts in prp mutants were mispatterned apparently following the abnormal vascular plexus pattern, demonstrating that blood vessels play an important role in the patterning of bony rays in zebrafish caudal fins.
Zebrafish; Vascular plexus; Collagen IX; Actinotrichia; Fin
The vascular type of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (EDS IV) is an autosomal-dominant disorder characterized by thin translucent skin and extensive bruising. Patients with EDS IV have reduced life expectancy (median 45–50 years) due to spontaneous rupture of arteries (particularly large arteries) or bowel. EDS IV results from mutation of the COL3A1 gene, which encodes the pro-α1 chains of type III collagen that is secreted into the extracellular matrix, e.g. by smooth muscle cells. A mouse model of EDS IV produced by targeted ablation of Col3a1 has been of limited use as only 10% of homozygous animals survive to adulthood, whereas heterozygous animals do not die from arterial rupture. We report a novel, exploitable model of EDS IV in a spontaneously generated mouse line.
Methods and results
Mice were identified by predisposition to sudden, unexpected death from dissection of the thoracic aorta. Aortic dissection inheritance was autosomal-dominant, presented at an early age (median, 6 weeks) with incomplete penetrance, and had a similar sex ratio bias as EDS IV (2:1, male:female). Molecular genetic analysis demonstrated that the causal mutation is a spontaneous 185 kb deletion, including the promoter region and exons 1–39, of the Col3a1 gene. As in EDS IV, aortic dissection was not associated with elevated blood pressure, aneurysm formation, or infection, but may result from aberrant collagen fibrillogenesis within the aortic wall.
This novel, exploitable mouse line that faithfully models the vascular aspects of human EDS IV provides an important new tool for advancing understanding of EDS IV and of aortic dissection in general.
Vascular type of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome; COL3A1; Mouse