Long bone growth results from ordered chondrocyte development within the cartilagenous growth plate. Chondrocytes are recruited from a resting pool to proliferate along the long axis of the bone, until various signals trigger differentiation and hypertrophy. We have shown previously that the neurotrophin receptor TrkB is expressed in growth plate chondrocytes, where the tyrosine kinase receptor regulates the pace of hypertrophic differentiation by modulating the activities of ERK and p38 MAP kinases. To investigate the physiological relevance of TrkB to bone growth in vivo, we generated mice with a targeted disruption of the receptor, and compared them to mice targeted for MAPK14, the gene for p38α. The TrkB mutant and p38α mutant mice showed a similar degree of dwarfism and delayed hypertrophic differentiation. To extend these findings, we showed that both the TrkB and p38α mutant mice have altered expression of Runx2 and Sox9, two key transcription factors required for skeletogenesis. The data provides in vivo evidence for the role of TrkB in bone growth, supports the role of p38 downstream of TrkB, and suggests that Runx2 and Sox9 expression is regulated by this pathway at the growth plate.
Long bones develop through the strictly regulated process of endochondral ossification within the growth plate, resulting in the replacement of cartilage by bone. Defects in this process result in skeletal abnormalities and can predispose to disease such as osteoarthritis (OA). Studies suggest that activation of the transcription factor peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) is a therapeutic target for OA. In order to devise PPARγ-related therapies in OA and related diseases, it is critical to identify its role in cartilage biology. Therefore, we determined the in vivo role of PPARγ in endochondral ossification and cartilage development using cartilage-specific PPARγ knockout (KO) mice.
Cartilage-specific PPARγ KO mice were generated using LoxP/Cre system. Histomorphometric and immunohistochemical analysis was performed to account for ossification patterns, chondrocyte proliferation, differentiation, hypertrophy, skeletal organization, bone density and calcium deposition. Real-Time PCR and western blotting was performed to determine the expression of key markers involved in endochondral ossification.
PPARγ KO mice exhibited reduced body length, weight, length of long bones, skeletal growth, cellularity, bone density, calcium deposition and trabecular bone thickness, abnormal growth plate organization, loss of columnar organization, shorter hypertrophic zones, and delayed primary and secondary ossification. Immunohistochemistry for Sox9, BrdU, p57, collagen X and PECAM revealed reduction in chondrocyte differentiation and proliferation, and hypertrophy and vascularisation in growth plates of mutant mice. Isolated chondrocytes and cartilage explants from mutant mice showed aberrant expression of ECM markers including aggrecan, collagen II and MMP-13.
PPARγ is required for normal endochondral ossification and cartilage development in vivo.
Human ATRX mutations are associated with cognitive deficits, developmental abnormalities, and cancer. We show that the Atrx-null embryonic mouse brain accumulates replicative damage at telomeres and pericentromeric heterochromatin, which is exacerbated by loss of p53 and linked to ATM activation. ATRX-deficient neuroprogenitors exhibited higher incidence of telomere fusions and increased sensitivity to replication stress–inducing drugs. Treatment of Atrx-null neuroprogenitors with the G-quadruplex (G4) ligand telomestatin increased DNA damage, indicating that ATRX likely aids in the replication of telomeric G4-DNA structures. Unexpectedly, mutant mice displayed reduced growth, shortened life span, lordokyphosis, cataracts, heart enlargement, and hypoglycemia, as well as reduction of mineral bone density, trabecular bone content, and subcutaneous fat. We show that a subset of these defects can be attributed to loss of ATRX in the embryonic anterior pituitary that resulted in low circulating levels of thyroxine and IGF-1. Our findings suggest that loss of ATRX increases DNA damage locally in the forebrain and anterior pituitary and causes tissue attrition and other systemic defects similar to those seen in aging.
Previously we showed that CCN family member 2/connective tissue growth factor (CCN2) promotes the proliferation, differentiation, and maturation of growth cartilage cells in vitro. To elucidate the specific role and molecular mechanism of CCN2 in cartilage development in vivo, in the present study we generated transgenic mice overexpressing CCN2 and analyzed them with respect to cartilage and bone development. Transgenic mice were generated expressing a ccn2/lacZ fusion gene in cartilage under the control of the 6 kb-Col2a1-enhancer/promoter. Changes in cartilage and bone development were analyzed histologically and immunohistologically and also by micro CT. Primary chondrocytes as well as limb bud mesenchymal cells were cultured and analyzed for changes in expression of cartilage–related genes, and non-transgenic chondrocytes were treated in culture with recombinant CCN2. Newborn transgenic mice showed extended length of their long bones, increased content of proteoglycans and collagen II accumulation. Micro-CT analysis of transgenic bones indicated increases in bone thickness and mineral density. Chondrocyte proliferation was enhanced in the transgenic cartilage. In in vitro short-term cultures of transgenic chondrocytes, the expression of col2a1, aggrecan and ccn2 genes was substantially enhanced; and in long-term cultures the expression levels of these genes were further enhanced. Also, in vitro chondrogenesis was strongly enhanced. IGF-I and IGF-II mRNA levels were elevated in transgenic chondrocytes, and treatment of non-transgenic chondrocytes with recombinant CCN2 stimulated the expression of these mRNA. The addition of CCN2 to non-transgenic chondrocytes induced the phosphorylation of IGFR, and ccn2-overexpressing chondrocytes showed enhanced phosphorylation of IGFR. Our data indicates that the observed effects of CCN2 may be mediated in part by CCN2-induced overexpression of IGF-I and IGF-II. These findings indicate that CCN2-overexpression in transgenic mice accelerated the endochondral ossification processes, resulting in increased length of their long bones. Our results also indicate the possible involvement of locally enhanced IGF-I or IGF-II in this extended bone growth.
Biomineralization of the extracellular matrix occurs inappropriately in numerous pathological conditions such as cancer and vascular disease, but during normal mammalian development calcification is restricted to the formation of the skeleton and dentition. The comprehensive study of gene expression in mineralized skeletal tissues has been compromized by the traditional decalcification/fixation methods that result in significant mRNA degradation. In this study we developed a novel RNAlater/EDTA decalcification method that protects the integrity of the mRNA in mature mouse tibial epiphyses. Furthermore, this method preserves the tissue structure to allow histological sectioning and microdissection to determine region-specific gene expression, in addition to immuno- and in situ histology. This method will be widely applicable to the molecular analysis of calcified tissues in various pathological conditions, and will be of particular importance in dissection of the gene expression in mouse bone and joint tissues during development and in important clinical conditions such as arthritis.
Hypertrophic differentiation of growth plate chondrocytes induces angiogenesis which alleviates hypoxia normally present in cartilage. In the current study, we aim to determine whether alleviation of hypoxia is merely a downstream effect of hypertrophic differentiation as previously described or whether alleviation of hypoxia and consequent changes in oxygen tension mediated signaling events also plays an active role in regulating the hypertrophic differentiation process itself.
Materials and Methods
Fetal mouse tibiae (E17.5) explants were cultured up to 21 days under normoxic or hypoxic conditions (21% and 2.5% oxygen respectively). Tibiae were analyzed on growth kinetics, histology, gene expression and protein secretion.
The oxygen level had a strong influence on the development of explanted fetal tibiae. Compared to hypoxia, normoxia increased the length of the tibiae, length of the hypertrophic zone, calcification of the cartilage and mRNA levels of hypertrophic differentiation-related genes e.g. MMP9, MMP13, RUNX2, COL10A1 and ALPL. Compared to normoxia, hypoxia increased the size of the cartilaginous epiphysis, length of the resting zone, calcification of the bone and mRNA levels of hyaline cartilage-related genes e.g. ACAN, COL2A1 and SOX9. Additionally, hypoxia enhanced the mRNA and protein expression of the secreted articular cartilage markers GREM1, FRZB and DKK1, which are able to inhibit hypertrophic differentiation.
Collectively our data suggests that oxygen levels play an active role in the regulation of hypertrophic differentiation of hyaline chondrocytes. Normoxia stimulates hypertrophic differentiation evidenced by the expression of hypertrophic differentiation related genes. In contrast, hypoxia suppresses hypertrophic differentiation of chondrocytes, which might be at least partially explained by the induction of GREM1, FRZB and DKK1 expression.
In monolayer culture, primary articular chondrocytes have an intrinsic tendency to lose their phenotype during expansion. The molecular events underlying this chondrocyte dedifferentiation are still largely unknown. Several transcription factors are important for chondrocyte differentiation. The Ets transcription factor family may be involved in skeletal development. One family member, the Erg gene, is mainly expressed during cartilage formation. To further investigate the potential role of Erg in the maintenance of the chondrocyte phenotype, we isolated and cultured chondrocytes from the rib cartilage of embryos of transgenic mice that express a dominant negative form of Erg (DN-Erg) during cartilage formation. DN-Erg expression in chondrocytes cultured for up to 20 days did not affect the early dedifferentiation usually observed in cultured chondrocytes. However, lipid droplets accumulated in DN-Erg chondrocytes, suggesting adipocyte emergence. Transcriptomic analysis using a DNA microarray, validated by quantitative RT-PCR, revealed strong differential gene expression, with a decrease in chondrogenesis-related markers and an increase in adipogenesis-related gene expression in cultured DN-Erg chondrocytes. These results indicate that Erg is involved in either maintaining the chondrogenic phenotype in vitro or in cell fate orientation. Along with the in vitro studies, we compared adipocyte presence in wild-type and transgenic mice skeletons. Histological investigations revealed an increase in the number of adipocytes in the bone marrow of adult DN-Erg mice even though no adipocytes were detected in embryonic cartilage or bone. These findings suggest that the Ets transcription factor family may contribute to the homeostatic balance in skeleton cell plasticity.
Loss of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activity in mice alters growth plate development, impairs endochondral ossification, and retards growth. However, the detailed mechanism by which EGFR regulates endochondral bone formation is unknown. Here, we show that administration of an EGFR-specific small molecule inhibitor, gefitinib, into 1-month-old rats for 7 days produced profound defects in long bone growth plate cartilage characterized by epiphyseal growth plate thickening and massive accumulation of hypertrophic chondrocytes. Immunostaining demonstrated that growth plate chondrocytes express EGFR but endothelial cells and osteoclasts show little to no expression. Gefitinib did not alter chondrocyte proliferation or differentiation and vascular invasion into the hypertrophic cartilage. However, osteoclast recruitment and differentiation at the chondro-osseous junction was attenuated due to decreased RANKL expression in the growth plate. Moreover, gefitinib treatment inhibited the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP9, 13, and 14), increased the amount of collagen fibrils, and decreased degraded extracellular matrix products in the growth plate. In vitro, the EGFR ligand TGFα strongly stimulated RANKL, MMP9 and MMP13 expression and suppressed OPG expression in primary chondrocytes. In addition, a mouse model of cartilage-specific EGFR inactivation exhibited a similar phenotype of hypertrophic cartilage enlargement. Together, our data demonstrate that EGFR signaling supports osteoclastogenesis at the chondro-osseous junction and promotes chondrogenic expression of MMPs in the growth plate. Therefore, we conclude that EGFR signaling plays an essential role in the remodeling of growth plate cartilage extracellular matrix into bone during endochondral ossification.
EGFR; endochondral ossification; growth plate; chondrocytes; MMP
Recent studies have implied that osteoarthritis (OA) is a metabolic disease linked to deregulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism and cholesterol efflux. Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins (SREBPs) are transcription factors regulating lipid metabolism with so far no association with OA. Our aim was to test the hypothesis that SREBP-2, a gene that plays a key role in cholesterol homeostasis, is crucially involved in OA pathogenesis and to identify possible mechanisms of action.
We performed a genetic association analysis using a cohort of 1,410 Greek OA patients and healthy controls and found significant association between single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) 1784G>C in SREBP-2 gene and OA development. Moreover, the above SNP was functionally active, as normal chondrocytes’ transfection with SREBP-2-G/C plasmid resulted in interleukin-1β and metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) upregulation. We also evaluated SREBP-2, its target gene 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzymeA reductase (HMGCR), phospho-phosphoinositide3-kinase (PI3K), phospho-Akt, integrin-alphaV (ITGAV) and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) mRNA and protein expression levels in osteoarthritic and normal chondrocytes and found that they were all significantly elevated in OA chondrocytes. To test whether TGF-β alone can induce SREBP-2, we treated normal chondrocytes with TGF-β and found significant upregulation of SREBP-2, HMGCR, phospho-PI3K and MMP-13. We also showed that TGF-β activated aggrecan (ACAN) in chondrocytes only through Smad3, which interacts with SREBP-2. Finally, we examined the effect of an integrin inhibitor, cyclo-RGDFV peptide, on osteoarthritic chondrocytes, and found that it resulted in significant upregulation of ACAN and downregulation of SREBP-2, HMGCR, phospho-PI3K and MMP-13 expression levels.
We demonstrated, for the first time, the association of SREBP-2 with OA pathogenesis and provided evidence on the molecular mechanism involved. We suggest that TGF-β induces SREBP-2 pathway activation through ITGAV and PI3K playing a key role in OA and that integrin blockage may be a potential molecular target for OA treatment.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neuromodulator involved in nociceptive hypersensitivity in the central nervous system, is also expressed in synoviocytes of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. We investigated the role of P2 purinoreceptors in the induction of BDNF expression in synovial fibroblasts (SF) of OA and RA patients. Cultured SF from patients with symptomatic knee OA and RA were stimulated with purinoreceptor agonists ATP, ADP, or UTP. The expression of BDNF mRNA was measured by quantitative TaqMan PCR. BDNF release into cell culture supernatants was monitored by ELISA. P2X4 expression in synovial tissue was detected by immunohistochemistry. Endogenous P2X4 expression was decreased by siRNA transfection before ATP stimulation. Kinase pathways were blocked before ATP stimulation. BDNF mRNA expression levels in OASF were increased 2 h and 5 h after ATP stimulation. Mean BDNF levels in cell culture supernatants of unstimulated OASF and RASF were 19 (±9) and 67 (±49) pg/ml, respectively. BDNF levels in SF supernatants were only elevated 5 h after ATP stimulation. BDNF mRNA expression in OASF was induced both by P2X receptor agonists ATP and ADP, but not by UTP, an agonist of P2Y purinergic receptors. The ATP-induced BDNF mRNA expression in OASF was decreased by siRNA-mediated reduction of endogenous P2X4 levels compared to scrambled controls. Inhibition of p38, but not p44/42 signalling reduced the ATP-mediated BDNF mRNA induction. Here we show a functional role of the purinergic receptor P2X4 and p38 kinase in the ATP-induced expression and release of the neurotrophin BDNF in SF.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disease in the elderly due to an imbalance in cartilage degradation and synthesis. Heterotopic ossification (HO) occurs when ectopic masses of endochondral bone form within the soft tissues around the joints and is triggered by inflammation of the soft tissues. Procyanidin B3 (B3) is a procyanidin dimer that is widely studied due to its high abundance in the human diet and antioxidant activity. Here, we evaluated the role of B3 isolated from grape seeds in the maintenance of chondrocytes in vitro and in vivo. We observed that B3 inhibited H2O2-induced apoptosis in primary chondrocytes, suppressed H2O2- or IL-1ß−induced nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) production, and prevented IL-1ß−induced suppression of chondrocyte differentiation marker gene expression in primary chondrocytes. Moreover, B3 treatment enhanced the early differentiation of ATDC5 cells. To examine whether B3 prevents cartilage destruction in vivo, OA was surgically induced in C57BL/6J mice followed by oral administration of B3 or vehicle control. Daily oral B3 administration protected articular cartilage from OA and prevented chondrocyte apoptosis in surgically-induced OA joints. Furthermore, B3 administration prevented heterotopic cartilage formation near the surgical region. iNOS protein expression was enhanced in the synovial tissues and the pseudocapsule around the surgical region in OA mice fed a control diet, but was reduced in mice that received B3. Together, these data indicated that in the OA model, B3 prevented OA progression and heterotopic cartilage formation, at least in a part through the suppression of iNOS. These results support the potential therapeutic benefits of B3 for treatment of human OA and heterotopic ossification.
Articular cartilage is physiologically exposed to repeated loads. The mechanical properties of cartilage are due to its extracellular matrix, and homeostasis is maintained by the sole cell type found in cartilage, the chondrocyte. Although mechanical forces clearly control the functions of articular chondrocytes, the biochemical pathways that mediate cellular responses to mechanical stress have not been fully characterised. The aim of our study was to examine early molecular events triggered by dynamic compression in chondrocytes. We used an experimental system consisting of primary mouse chondrocytes embedded within an agarose hydrogel; embedded cells were pre-cultured for one week and subjected to short-term compression experiments. Using Western blots, we demonstrated that chondrocytes maintain a differentiated phenotype in this model system and reproduce typical chondrocyte-cartilage matrix interactions. We investigated the impact of dynamic compression on the phosphorylation state of signalling molecules and genome-wide gene expression. After 15 min of dynamic compression, we observed transient activation of ERK1/2 and p38 (members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways) and Smad2/3 (members of the canonical transforming growth factor (TGF)-β pathways). A microarray analysis performed on chondrocytes compressed for 30 min revealed that only 20 transcripts were modulated more than 2-fold. A less conservative list of 325 modulated genes included genes related to the MAPK and TGF-β pathways and/or known to be mechanosensitive in other biological contexts. Of these candidate mechanosensitive genes, 85% were down-regulated. Down-regulation may therefore represent a general control mechanism for a rapid response to dynamic compression. Furthermore, modulation of transcripts corresponding to different aspects of cellular physiology was observed, such as non-coding RNAs or primary cilium. This study provides new insight into how chondrocytes respond to mechanical forces.
Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant agent used in renal transplantation with antitumoral properties, has been reported to impair longitudinal growth in young individuals. As growth hormone (GH) can be used to treat growth retardation in transplanted children, we aimed this study to find out the effect of GH therapy in a model of young rat with growth retardation induced by rapamycin administration. Three groups of 4-week-old rats treated with vehicle (C), daily injections of rapamycin alone (RAPA) or in combination with GH (RGH) at pharmacological doses for 1 week were compared. GH treatment caused a 20% increase in both growth velocity and body length in RGH animals when compared with RAPA group. GH treatment did not increase circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor I, a systemic mediator of GH actions. Instead, GH promoted the maturation and hypertrophy of growth plate chondrocytes, an effect likely related to AKT and ERK1/2 mediated inactivation of GSK3β, increase of glycogen deposits and stabilization of β-catenin. Interestingly, GH did not interfere with the antiproliferative and antiangiogenic activities of rapamycin in the growth plate and did not cause changes in chondrocyte autophagy markers. In summary, these findings indicate that GH administration improves longitudinal growth in rapamycin-treated rats by specifically acting on the process of growth plate chondrocyte hypertrophy but not by counteracting the effects of rapamycin on proliferation and angiogenesis.
Low-back pain (LBP) is a common medical complaint and associated with high societal costs. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is assumed to be an important causal factor of LBP. IVDs are continuously mechanically loaded and both positive and negative effects have been attributed to different loading conditions.
In order to study mechanical loading effects, degeneration-associated processes and/or potential regenerative therapies in IVDs, it is imperative to maintain the IVDs' structural integrity. While in vivo models provide comprehensive insight in IVD biology, an accompanying organ culture model can focus on a single factor, such as loading and may serve as a prescreening model to reduce life animal testing. In the current study we examined the feasibility of organ culture of caprine lumbar discs, with the hypothesis that a simulated-physiological load will optimally preserve IVD properties.
Lumbar caprine IVDs (n = 175) were cultured in a bioreactor up to 21 days either without load, low dynamic load (LDL), or with simulated-physiological load (SPL). IVD stiffness was calculated from measurements of IVD loading and displacement. IVD nucleus, inner- and outer annulus were assessed for cell viability, cell density and gene expression. The extracellular matrix (ECM) was analyzed for water, glycosaminoglycan and total collagen content.
IVD biomechanical properties did not change significantly with loading conditions. With SPL, cell viability, cell density and gene expression were preserved up to 21 days. Both unloaded and LDL resulted in decreased cell viability, cell density and significant changes in gene expression, yet no differences in ECM content were observed in any group.
In conclusion, simulated-physiological loading preserved the native properties of caprine IVDs during a 21-day culture period. The characterization of caprine IVD response to culture in the LDCS under SPL conditions paves the way for controlled analysis of degeneration- and regeneration-associated processes in the future.
NF-κB/p65 has been reported to be involved in regulation of chondrogenic differentiation. However, its function in relation to key chondrogenic factor Sox9 and onset of chondrogenesis during endochondral ossification is poorly understood. We hypothesized that the early onset of chondrogenic differentiation is initiated by transient NF-κB/p65 signaling.
The role of NF-κB/p65 in early chondrogenesis was investigated in different in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo endochondral models: ATDC5 cells, hBMSCs, chicken periosteal explants and growth plates of 6 weeks old mice. NF-κB/p65 activation was manipulated using pharmacological inhibitors, RNAi and activating agents. Gene expression and protein expression analysis, and (immuno)histochemical stainings were employed to determine the role of NF-κB/p65 in the chondrogenic phase of endochondral development. Our data show that chondrogenic differentiation is facilitated by early transient activation of NF-κB/p65. NF-κB/p65-mediated signaling determines early expression of Sox9 and facilitates the subsequent chondrogenic differentiation programming by signaling through key chondrogenic pathways.
The presented data demonstrate that NF-κB/p65 signaling, as well as its intensity and timing, represents one of the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms of the chondrogenic developmental program of chondroprogenitor cells during endochondral ossification. Importantly, these results provide novel possibilities to improve the success of cartilage and bone regenerative techniques.
Subchondral bone cysts (SBC) have been identified in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) as a cause of greater pain, loss of cartilage and increased chance of joint replacement surgery. Few studies monitor SBC longitudinally, and clinical research using three-dimensional imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), is limited to retrospective analyses as SBC are identified within an OA patient cohort. The purpose of this study was to use dual-modality, preclinical imaging to monitor the initiation and progression of SBC occurring within an established rodent model of knee OA.
Eight rodents underwent anterior cruciate ligament transection and partial medial meniscectomy (ACLX) of the right knee. In vivo 9.4 T MRI and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scans were performed consecutively prior to ACLX and 4, 8, and 12 weeks post-ACLX. Resultant images were co-registered using anatomical landmarks, which allowed for precise tracking of SBC size and composition throughout the study. The diameter of the SBC was measured, and the volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) was calculated within the bone adjacent to SBC. At 12 weeks, the ACLX and contralateral knees were processed for histological analysis, immunohistochemistry, and Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) pathological scoring.
At 4 weeks post-ACLX, 75% of the rodent knees had at least 1 cyst that formed in the medial tibial plateau; by 12 weeks all ACLX knees contained SBC. Imaging data revealed that the SBC originate in the presence of a subchondral bone plate breach, with evolving composition over time. The diameter of the SBC increased significantly over time (P = 0.0033) and the vBMD significantly decreased at 8 weeks post-ACLX (P = 0.033). Histological analysis demonstrated positive staining for bone resorption and formation surrounding the SBC, which were consistently located beneath the joint surface with the greatest cartilage damage. Trabecular bone adjacent the SBC lacked viable osteocytes and, combined with bone marrow changes, indicated osteonecrosis.
This study provides insight into the mechanisms leading to SBC formation in knee OA. The expansion of these lesions is due to stress-induced bone resorption from the incurred mechanical instability. Therefore, we suggest these lesions can be more accurately described as a form of OA-induced osteonecrosis, rather than 'subchondral cysts'.
Multiple Osteochondromas (MO; previously known as multiple hereditary exostosis) is an autosomal dominant genetic condition that is characterized by the formation of cartilaginous bone tumours (osteochondromas) at multiple sites in the skeleton, secondary bursa formation and impingement of nerves, tendons and vessels, bone curving, and short stature. MO is also known to be associated with arthritis, general pain, scarring and occasional malignant transformation of osteochondroma into secondary peripheral chondrosarcoma. MO patients present additional complains but the relevance of those in relation to the syndromal background needs validation. Mutations in two enzymes that are required during heparan sulphate synthesis (EXT1 or EXT2) are known to cause MO. Previously, we have used zebrafish which harbour mutations in ext2 as a model for MO and shown that ext2−/− fish have skeletal defects that resemble those seen in osteochondromas. Here we analyse dental defects present in ext2−/− fish. Histological analysis reveals that ext2−/− fish have very severe defects associated with the formation and the morphology of teeth. At 5 days post fertilization 100% of ext2−/− fish have a single tooth at the end of the 5th pharyngeal arch, whereas wild-type fish develop three teeth, located in the middle of the pharyngeal arch. ext2−/− teeth have abnormal morphology (they were shorter and thicker than in the WT) and patchy ossification at the tooth base. Deformities such as split crowns and enamel lesions were found in 20% of ext2+/− adults. The tooth morphology in ext2−/− was partially rescued by FGF8 administered locally (bead implants). Our findings from zebrafish model were validated in a dental survey that was conducted with assistance of the MHE Research Foundation. The presence of the malformed and/or displaced teeth with abnormal enamel was declared by half of the respondents indicating that MO might indeed be also associated with dental problems.
Formation of woven and lamellar bone in the adult skeleton can be induced through mechanical loading. Although much is known about the morphological appearance and structural properties of the newly formed bone, the molecular responses to loading are still not well understood. The objective of our study was to use a microarray to distinguish the molecular responses between woven and lamellar bone formation induced through mechanical loading. Rat forelimb loading was completed in a single bout to induce the formation of woven bone (WBF loading) or lamellar bone (LBF loading). A set of normal (non-loaded) rats were used as controls. Microarrays were performed at three timepoints after loading: 1 hr, 1 day and 3 days. Confirmation of microarray results was done for a select group of genes using quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). The micorarray identified numerous genes and pathways that were differentially regulated for woven, but not lamellar bone formation. Few changes in gene expression were evident comparing lamellar bone formation to normal controls. A total of 395 genes were differentially expressed between formation of woven and lamellar bone 1 hr after loading, while 5883 and 5974 genes were differentially expressed on days 1 and 3, respectively. Results suggest that not only are the levels of expression different for each type of bone formation, but that distinct pathways are activated only for woven bone formation. A strong early inflammatory response preceded an increase in angiogenic and osteogenic gene expression for woven bone formation. Furthermore, at later timepoints there was evidence of bone resorption after WBF loading. In summary, the vast coverage of the microarray offers a comprehensive characterization of the early differences in expression between woven and lamellar bone formation.
Metaphyseal chondrodysplasia, Schmid type (MCDS) is characterized by mild short stature and growth plate hypertrophic zone expansion, and caused by collagen X mutations. We recently demonstrated the central importance of ER stress in the pathology of MCDS by recapitulating the disease phenotype by expressing misfolding forms of collagen X (Schmid) or thyroglobulin (Cog) in the hypertrophic zone. Here we characterize the Schmid and Cog ER stress signaling networks by transcriptional profiling of microdissected mutant and wildtype hypertrophic zones. Both models displayed similar unfolded protein responses (UPRs), involving activation of canonical ER stress sensors and upregulation of their downstream targets, including molecular chaperones, foldases, and ER-associated degradation machinery. Also upregulated were the emerging UPR regulators Wfs1 and Syvn1, recently identified UPR components including Armet and Creld2, and genes not previously implicated in ER stress such as Steap1 and Fgf21. Despite upregulation of the Chop/Cebpb pathway, apoptosis was not increased in mutant hypertrophic zones. Ultrastructural analysis of mutant growth plates revealed ER stress and disrupted chondrocyte maturation throughout mutant hypertrophic zones. This disruption was defined by profiling the expression of wildtype growth plate zone gene signatures in the mutant hypertrophic zones. Hypertrophic zone gene upregulation and proliferative zone gene downregulation were both inhibited in Schmid hypertrophic zones, resulting in the persistence of a proliferative chondrocyte-like expression profile in ER-stressed Schmid chondrocytes. Our findings provide a transcriptional map of two chondrocyte UPR gene networks in vivo, and define the consequences of UPR activation for the adaptation, differentiation, and survival of chondrocytes experiencing ER stress during hypertrophy. Thus they provide important insights into ER stress signaling and its impact on cartilage pathophysiology.
Emerging evidence suggests that connexin mediated gap junctional intercellular communication contributes to many aspects of bone biology including bone development, maintenance of bone homeostasis and responsiveness of bone cells to diverse extracellular signals. Deletion of connexin 43, the predominant gap junction protein in bone, is embryonic lethal making it challenging to examine the role of connexin 43 in bone in vivo. However, transgenic murine models in which only osteocytes and osteoblasts are deficient in connexin 43, and which are fully viable, have recently been developed. Unfortunately, the bone phenotype of different connexin 43 deficient models has been variable. To address this issue, we used an osteocalcin driven Cre-lox system to create osteoblast and osteocyte specific connexin 43 deficient mice. These mice displayed bone loss as a result of increased bone resorption and osteoclastogenesis. The mechanism underlying this increased osteoclastogenesis included increases in the osteocytic, but not osteoblastic, RANKL/OPG ratio. Previous in vitro studies suggest that connexin 43 deficient bone cells are less responsive to biomechanical signals. Interestingly, and in contrast to in vitro studies, we found that connexin 43 deficient mice displayed an enhanced anabolic response to mechanical load. Our results suggest that transient inhibition of connexin 43 expression and gap junctional intercellular communication may prove a potentially powerful means of enhancing the anabolic response of bone to mechanical loading.
Although the capacity of exogenous PTH1-34 to enhance the rate of bone repair is well established in animal models, our understanding of the mechanism(s) whereby PTH induces an anabolic response during skeletal repair remains limited. Furthermore it is unknown whether endogenous PTH is required for fracture healing and how the absence of endogenous PTH would influence the fracture-healing capacity of exogenous PTH.
Closed mid-diaphyseal femur fractures were created and stabilized with an intramedullary pin in 8-week-old wild-type and Pth null (Pth−/−) mice. Mice received daily injections of vehicle or of PTH1-34 (80 µg/kg) for 1–4 weeks post-fracture, and callus tissue properties were analyzed at 1, 2 and 4 weeks post-fracture. Cartilaginous callus areas were reduced at 1 week post-fracture, but were increased at 2 weeks post-fracture in vehicle-treated and PTH-treated Pth−/− mice compared to vehicle-treated and PTH-treated wild-type mice respectively. The mineralized callus areas, bony callus areas, osteoblast number and activity, osteoclast number and surface in callus tissues were all reduced in vehicle-treated and PTH-treated Pth−/− mice compared to vehicle-treated and PTH-treated wild-type mice, but were increased in PTH-treated wild-type and Pth−/− mice compared to vehicle-treated wild-type and Pth−/− mice.
Absence of endogenous PTH1-84 impedes bone fracture healing. Exogenous PTH1-34 can act in the absence of endogenous PTH but callus formation, including accelerated endochondral bone formation and callus remodeling as well as mechanical strength of the bone are greater when endogenous PTH is present. Results of this study suggest a complementary role for endogenous PTH1-84 and exogenous PTH1-34 in accelerating fracture healing.
Albright hereditary osteodystrophy (AHO) is characterized by short stature, brachydactyly, and often heterotopic ossifications that are typically subcutaneous. Subcutaneous ossifications (SCO) cause considerable morbidity in AHO with no effective treatment. AHO is caused by heterozygous inactivating mutations in those GNAS exons encoding the α-subunit of the stimulatory G protein (Gαs). When inherited maternally, these mutations are associated with obesity, cognitive impairment, and resistance to certain hormones that mediate their actions through G protein-coupled receptors, a condition termed pseudohypoparathyroidism type 1a (PHP1a). When inherited paternally, GNAS mutations cause only AHO but not hormonal resistance, termed pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (PPHP). Mice with targeted disruption of exon 1 of Gnas (GnasE1−/+) replicate human PHP1a or PPHP phenotypically and hormonally. However, SCO have not yet been reported in GnasE1+/− mice, at least not those that had been analyzed by us up to 3 months of age. Here we now show that GnasE1−/+ animals develop SCO over time. The ossified lesions increase in number and size and are uniformly detected in adult mice by one year of age. They are located in both the dermis, often in perifollicular areas, and the subcutis. These lesions are particularly prominent in skin prone to injury or pressure. The SCO comprise mature bone with evidence of mineral deposition and bone marrow elements. Superficial localization was confirmed by radiographic and computerized tomographic imaging. In situ hybridization of SCO lesions were positive for both osteonectin and osteopontin. Notably, the ossifications were much more extensive in males than females. Because GnasE1−/+ mice develop SCO features that are similar to those observed in AHO patients, these animals provide a model system suitable for investigating pathogenic mechanisms involved in SCO formation and for developing novel therapeutics for heterotopic bone formation. Moreover, these mice provide a model with which to investigate the regulatory mechanisms of bone formation.
Whereas detrimental effects of vitamin D deficiency are known over century, the effects of vitamin D receptor activation by 1,25(OH)2D3, the principal hormonal form of vitamin D, on the growing bone and its growth plate are less clear. Currently, 1,25(OH)2D3 is used in pediatric patients with chronic kidney disease and mineral and bone disorder (CKD-MBD) and is strongly associated with growth retardation. Here, we investigate the effect of 1,25(OH)2D3 treatment on bone development in normal young rats, unrelated to renal insufficiency. Young rats received daily i.p. injections of 1 µg/kg 1,25(OH)2D3 for one week, or intermittent 3 µg/kg 1,25(OH)2D3 for one month. Histological analysis revealed narrower tibial growth plates, predominantly in the hypertrophic zone of 1,25(OH)2D3-treated animals in both experimental protocols. This phenotype was supported by narrower distribution of aggrecan, collagens II and X mRNA, shown by in situ hybridization. Concomitant with altered chondrocyte maturation, 1,25(OH)2D3 increased chondrocyte proliferation and apoptosis in terminal hypertrophic cells. In vitro treatment of the chondrocytic cell line ATDC5 with 1,25(OH)2D3 lowered differentiation and increased proliferation dose and time-dependently. Micro-CT analysis of femurs from 1-week 1,25(OH)2D3-treated group revealed reduced cortical thickness, elevated cortical porosity, and higher trabecular number and thickness. 1-month administration resulted in a similar cortical phenotype but without effect on trabecular bone. Evaluation of fluorochrome binding with confocal microscopy revealed inhibiting effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on intracortical bone formation. This study shows negative effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on growth plate and bone which may contribute to the exacerbation of MBD in the CKD pediatric patients.
Chondrocytes provide the framework for the developing skeleton and regulate long-bone growththrough the activity of the growth plate. Chondrocytes in the articular cartilage, found at the ends of bones in diarthroidial joints, are responsible for maintenance of the tissue through synthesis and degradation of the extracellular matrix. The processes of growth, differentiation, cell death and matrix remodeling are regulated by a network of cell signaling pathways in response to a variety of extracellular stimuli. These stimuli consist of soluble ligands, including growth factors and cytokines, extracellular matrix proteins, and mechanical factors that act in concert to regulate chondrocyte function through a variety of canonical and non-canonical signaling pathways. Key chondrocyte signaling pathways include, but are not limited to, the p38, JNK and ERK MAP kinases, the PI-3 kinase-Akt pathway, the Jak-STAT pathway, Rho GTPases and Wnt-β-catenin and Smad pathways. Modulation of the activity of any of these pathways has been associated with various pathological states in cartilage. This review focuses on the Rho GTPases, the PI-3 kinase-Akt pathway, and some selected aspects of MAP kinase signaling. Most studies to date have examined these pathways in isolation but it is becoming clear that there is significant cross talk among the pathways and that the overall effects on chondrocyte function depend on the balance in activity of multiple signaling proteins.
CELL SIGNALING; CHONDROCYTES; KINASES