[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Limb development requires the coordinated growth of several tissues and structures including long bones, joints and tendons, but the underlying mechanisms are not wholly clear. Recently, we identified a small drug-like molecule -we named Kartogenin (KGN)- that greatly stimulates chondrogenesis in marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and enhances cartilage repair in mouse osteoarthritis (OA) models. To determine whether limb developmental processes are regulated by KGN, we tested its activity on committed preskeletal mesenchymal cells from mouse embryo limb buds and whole limb explants. KGN did stimulate cartilage nodule formation and more strikingly, boosted digit cartilaginous anlaga elongation, synovial joint formation and interzone compaction, tendon maturation as monitored by ScxGFP, and interdigit invagination. To identify mechanisms, we carried out gene expression analyses and found that several genes, including those encoding key signaling proteins, were up-regulated by KGN. Amongst highly up-regulated genes were those encoding hedgehog and TGFβ superfamily members, particularly TFGβ1. The former response was verified by increases in Gli1-LacZ activity and Gli1 mRNA expression. Exogenous TGFβ1 stimulated cartilage nodule formation to levels similar to KGN, and KGN and TGFβ1 both greatly enhanced expression of lubricin/Prg4 in articular superficial zone cells. KGN also strongly increased the cellular levels of phospho-Smads that mediate canonical TGFβ and BMP signaling. Thus, limb development is potently and harmoniously stimulated by KGN. The growth effects of KGN appear to result from its ability to boost several key signaling pathways and in particular TGFβ signaling, working in addition to and/or in concert with the filamin A/CBFβ/RUNX1 pathway we identified previously to orchestrate overall limb development. KGN may thus represent a very powerful tool not only for OA therapy, but also limb regeneration and tissue repair strategies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Limb synovial joints are intricate structures composed of articular cartilage, synovial membranes, ligaments and capsule. Each joint has a unique shape, organization and biomechanical function, and articular cartilage itself is rather complex and organized in distinct zones, including the superficial zone that produces lubricans and contains stem/progenitor cells. There has been a great of interest for many years to decipher the mechanisms by which the joints form and come to acquire such unique structural features and diversity. Decades ago, classic embryologists discovered that the first overt sign of joint formation at each prescribed limb site is the appearance of a dense and compact population of mesenchymal cells collectively called the interzone. Work carried out since by several groups has provided evidence that the interzone cells do actively participate in joint tissue formation over developmental time. This minireview provides a succinct but comprehensive description of the many and important recent advances in this field of research. These includes: studies using various conditional reporter mice to genetically trace and track the origin, fate and possible function of joint progenitor cells; studies on the involvement and roles in signaling pathways and transcription factors in joint cell determination and functioning; and studies using advanced methods of gene expression analyses to uncover novel genetic determinants of joint formation and diversity. The overall advances are impressive, and the findings are not only of obvious interest and importance, but have major implications to conceive future translational medicine tools to repair and regenerate defective, overused or aging joints.
Matrix biology: journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology 08/2014; · 3.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Proteoglycan 4 (Prg4) product lubricin plays essential roles in boundary lubrication and movement in limb synovial joints, but its roles in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are unclear. Thus, we characterized the TMJ phenotype in wild-type and Prg4(-/-) mouse littermates over age. As early as 2 weeks of age, mutant mice exhibited hyperplasia in the glenoid fossa articular cartilage, articular disc, and synovial membrane. By 1 month of age, there were fewer condylar superficial tenascin-C/Col1-positive cells and more numerous apoptotic condylar apical cells, while chondroprogenitors displayed higher mitotic activity, and Sox9-, Col2-, and ColX-expressing chondrocyte zones were significantly expanded. Mutant subchondral bone contained numerous Catepsin K- expressing osteoclasts at the chondro-osseous junction, increased invasive marrow cavities, and suboptimal subchondral bone. Mutant glenoid fossa, disc, synovial cells, and condyles displayed higher Hyaluronan synthase 2 expression. Mutant discs also lost their characteristic concave shape, exhibited ectopic chondrocyte differentiation, and occasionally adhered to condylar surfaces. A fibrinoid substance of unclear origin often covered the condylar surface. By 6 months of age, mutant condyles displayed osteoarthritic degradation with apical/mid-zone separation. In sum, lubricin exerts multiple essential direct and indirect roles to preserve TMJ structural and cellular integrity over post-natal life.
Journal of Dental Research 05/2014; 93(7):663. · 3.83 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) functions as a load-bearing diarthrodial joint during mastication, and its continuous use and stress can lead to degeneration over age. Using senescence-accelerated (SAMP8) mice that develop early osteoarthritis-like changes in synovial joints at high frequency, we analyzed possible molecular mechanisms of TMJ degeneration and tested whether and how malocclusion may accelerate it. Condylar articular cartilage in young SAMP8 mice displayed early-onset osteoarthritic changes that included reductions in superficial/chondroprogenitor cell number, proteoglycan/collagen content, and Indian hedgehog (Ihh)-expressing chondrocytes. Following malocclusion induced by tooth milling, the SAMP8 condyles became morphologically defective, displayed even lower proteoglycan levels, and underwent abnormal chondrocyte maturation compared with malocclusion-treated condyles in wild-type mice. Malocclusion also induced faster progression of pathologic changes with increasing age in SAMP8 condyles as indicated by decreased PCNA-positive proliferating chondroprogenitors and increased TUNEL-positive apoptotic cells. These changes were accompanied by steeper reductions in Ihh signaling and by expression of matrix metalloproteinase 13 at the chondro-osseous junction in SAMP8 articular cartilage. In sum, we show for the first time that precocious TMJ degeneration in SAMP8 mice is accompanied by-and possibly attributable to-altered Ihh signaling and that occlusal dysfunction accelerates progression toward degenerative TMJ disease in this model.
Journal of dental research 01/2014; · 3.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract An interdisciplinary and international group of clinicians and scientists gathered in Philadelphia, PA to attend the 4(th) International Research Conference on Multiple Hereditary Exostoses (MHE), a rare and severe skeletal disorder. MHE is largely caused by autosomal dominant mutations in EXT1 or EXT2, genes encoding Golgi-associated glycosyltransferases responsible for heparan sulfate (HS) synthesis. HS chains are key constituents of cell surface- and extracellular matrix-associated proteoglycans, which are known regulators of skeletal development. MHE affected individuals are HS-deficient, can display skeletal growth retardation and deformities, and consistently develop benign, cartilage-capped bony outgrowths (termed exostoses or osteochondromas) near the growth plates of many skeletal elements. Nearly 2% of patients will have their exostoses progress to malignancy, becoming peripheral chondrosarcomas. Current treatments are limited to surgical removal of symptomatic exostoses. No definitive treatments have been established to inhibit further formation and growth of exostoses, prevent transition to malignancy, or address other medical problems experienced by MHE patients, including chronic pain. Thus, the goals of the Conference were to assess our current understanding of MHE pathogenesis, identify key gaps in information, envision future therapeutic strategies and discuss ways to test and implement them. This report provides an assessment of the exciting and promising findings in MHE and related fields presented at the Conference and a discussion of the future MHE research directions. The Conference underlined the critical usefulness of gathering experts in several research fields to forge new alliances and identify cross-fertilization areas to benefit both basic and translational biomedical research on the skeleton.
Connective tissue research 01/2014; · 1.55 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CCN proteins are extracellular and cell-associated molecules involved in several developmental processes, but their expression patterns and regulation in tooth development remain unclear. Here we first determined the expression patterns of CCN genes in mouse tooth germs. We found that at early stages CCN2 was detected in dental lamina, dental mesenchyme, and primary enamel knot, while other CCN family members were expressed broadly. By the bell stage, all members were expressed in differentiating odontoblasts and ameloblasts, but CCN1 and CCN2 transcripts were conspicuous in differentiating osteoblasts in dental follicle. Next, we asked what signalling molecules regulate CCN2 expression and what roles CCN2 may have. We found that upon surgical removal of dental epithelium CCN2 was not longer expressed in dental mesenchyme in cultured bud stage germs. Implantation of beads pre-coated with BMPs and FGFs onto E12-13 mandibular explants induced CCN2 expression in dental mesenchyme. There was a dose-dependent effect of BMP-4 on CCN2 induction; a concentration of 100ng/μl was able to induce strong CCN2 expression while a minimum concentration of 25ng/μl was needed to elicit appreciable expression. Importantly, Noggin treatment inhibited endogenous and BMP-induced CCN2 expression, verifying that CCN2 expression in developing tooth germs requires BMP signalling. Lastly, we found that rCCN2 stimulated proliferation in dental mesenchyme in a dose-dependent manner. Together, the data indicate that expression of CCN genes is spatio-temporally regulated in developing tooth germs. CCN2 expression appears to depend on epithelial and mesenchymal-derived signalling factors, and CCN2 can elicit strong proliferation in dental mesenchyme.
Archives of oral biology 11/2013; 58(11):1659-1666. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long bones are integral components of the limb skeleton. Recent studies have indicated that embryonic long bone development is altered by mutations in Ext genes and consequent heparan sulfate (HS) deficiency, possibly due to changes in activity and distribution of HS-binding/growth plate-associated signaling proteins. Here we asked whether Ext function is continuously required after birth to sustain growth plate function and long bone growth and organization. Compound transgenic Ext1(f/f);Col2CreERT mice were injected with tamoxifen at postnatal day 5 (P5) to ablate Ext1 in cartilage and monitored over time. The Ext1-deficient mice exhibited growth retardation already by 2weeks post-injection, as did their long bones. Mutant growth plates displayed a severe disorganization of chondrocyte columnar organization, a shortened hypertrophic zone with low expression of collagen X and MMP-13, and reduced primary spongiosa accompanied, however, by increased numbers of TRAP-positive osteoclasts at the chondro-osseous border. The mutant epiphyses were abnormal as well. Formation of a secondary ossification center was significantly delayed but interestingly, hypertrophic-like chondrocytes emerged within articular cartilage, similar to those often seen in osteoarthritic joints. Indeed, the cells displayed a large size and round shape, expressed collagen X and MMP-13 and were surrounded by an abundant Perlecan-rich pericellular matrix not seen in control articular chondrocytes. In addition, ectopic cartilaginous outgrowths developed on the lateral side of mutant growth plates over time that resembled exostoses characteristic of children with Hereditary Multiple Exostoses, a syndrome caused by EXT mutations and HS deficiency. In sum, the data do show that Ext1 is continuously required for postnatal growth and organization of long bones as well as their adjacent joints. Ext1 deficiency elicits defects that can occur in human skeletal conditions including trabecular bone loss, osteoarthritis and HME.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During limb skeletogenesis the cartilaginous long bone anlagen and their growth plates become delimited by perichondrium with which they interact functionally. Yet, little is known about how, despite being so intimately associated with cartilage, perichondrium acquires and maintains its distinct phenotype and exerts its border function. Because perichondrium becomes deranged and interrupted by cartilaginous outgrowths in Hereditary Multiple Exostoses (HME), a pediatric disorder caused by EXT mutations and consequent heparan sulfate (HS) deficiency, we asked whether EXT genes and HS normally have roles in establishing its phenotype and function. Indeed, conditional Ext1 ablation in perichondrium and lateral chondrocytes flanking the epiphyseal region of mouse embryo long bone anlagen -a region encompassing the groove of Ranvier- caused ectopic cartilage formation. A similar response was observed when HS function was disrupted in long bone anlagen explants by genetic, pharmacological or enzymatic means, a response preceded by ectopic BMP signaling within perichondrium. These treatments also triggered excess chondrogenesis and cartilage nodule formation and overexpression of chondrogenic and matrix genes in limb bud mesenchymal cells in micromass culture. Interestingly, the treatments disrupted the peripheral definition and border of the cartilage nodules in such a way that many nodules overgrew and fused with each other into large amorphous cartilaginous masses. Interference with HS function reduced the physical association and interactions of BMP2 with HS and increased the cell responsiveness to endogenous and exogenous BMP proteins. In sum, Ext genes and HS are needed to establish and maintain perichondrium's phenotype and border function, restrain pro-chondrogenic signaling proteins including BMPs, and restrict chondrogenesis. Alterations in these mechanisms may contribute to exostosis formation in HME, particularly at the expense of regions rich in progenitor cells including the groove of Ranvier.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Osteochondromas and enchondromas are the most common tumors affecting the skeleton. Osteochondromas can occur as multiple lesions, such as those in patients with hereditary multiple exostoses. Unexpectedly, while studying the role of β-catenin in cartilage development, we found that its conditional deletion induces ectopic chondroma-like cartilage formation in mice. Postnatal ablation of β-catenin in cartilage induced lateral outgrowth of the growth plate within 2 weeks after ablation. The chondroma-like masses were present in the flanking periosteum by 5 weeks and persisted for more than 6 months after β-catenin ablation. These long-lasting ectopic masses rarely contained apoptotic cells. In good correlation, transplants of β-catenin-deficient chondrocytes into athymic mice persisted for a longer period of time and resisted replacement by bone compared to control wild-type chondrocytes. In contrast, a β-catenin signaling stimulator increased cell death in control chondrocytes. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the amount of detectable β-catenin in cartilage cells of osteochondromas obtained from hereditary multiple exostoses patients was much lower than that in hypertrophic chondrocytes in normal human growth plates. The findings in our study indicate that loss of β-catenin expression in chondrocytes induces periosteal chondroma-like masses and may be linked to, and cause, the persistence of cartilage caps in osteochondromas.
American Journal Of Pathology 12/2012; · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cranial base exerts a supportive role for the brain and includes the occipital, sphenoid and ethmoid bones that arise from cartilaginous precursors in the early embryo. As the occipital bone and the posterior part of the sphenoid are mesoderm derivatives that arise in close proximity to the notochord and floor plate, it has been assumed that their development, like the axial skeleton, is dependent on Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and modulation of bone morphogenetic protein (Bmp) signalling. Here we examined the development of the cranial base in chick and mouse embryos to compare the molecular signals that are required for chondrogenic induction in the trunk and head. We found that Shh signalling is required but the molecular network controlling cranial base development is distinct from that in the trunk. In the absence of Shh, the presumptive cranial base did not undergo chondrogenic commitment as determined by the loss of Sox9 expression and there was a decrease in cell survival. In contrast, induction of the otic capsule occurred normally demonstrating that induction of the cranial base is uncoupled from formation of the sensory capsules. Lastly, we found that the early cranial mesoderm is refractory to Shh signalling, likely accounting for why development of the cranial base occurs after the axial skeleton. Our data reveal that cranial and axial skeletal induction is controlled by conserved, yet spatiotemporally distinct mechanisms that co-ordinate development of the cranial base with that of the cranial musculature and the pharyngeal arches.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Muenke syndrome is characterized by various craniofacial deformities and is caused by an autosomal-dominant activating mutation in fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3(P250R) ). Here, using mice carrying a corresponding mutation (FgfR3(P244R) ), we determined whether the mutation affects temporomandibular joint (TMJ) development and growth. In situ hybridization showed that FgfR3 was expressed in condylar chondroprogenitors and maturing chondrocytes that also expressed the Indian hedgehog (Ihh) receptor and transcriptional target Patched 1(Ptch1). In FgfR3(P244R) mutants, the condyles displayed reduced levels of Ihh expression, H4C-positive proliferating chondroprogenitors, and collagen type II- and type X-expressing chondrocytes. Primary bone spongiosa formation was also disturbed and was accompanied by increased osteoclastic activity and reduced trabecular bone formation. Treatment of wild-type condylar explants with recombinant FGF2/FGF9 decreased Ptch1 and PTHrP expression in superficial/polymorphic layers and proliferation in chondroprogenitors. We also observed early degenerative changes of condylar articular cartilage, abnormal development of the articular eminence/glenoid fossa in the TMJ, and fusion of the articular disc. Analysis of our data indicates that the activating FgfR3(P244R) mutation disturbs TMJ developmental processes, likely by reducing hedgehog signaling and endochondral ossification. We suggest that a balance between FGF and hedgehog signaling pathways is critical for the integrity of TMJ development and for the maintenance of cellular organization.
Journal of dental research 05/2012; 91(7):683-9. · 3.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The superficial zone (SFZ) of articular cartilage has unique structural and biomechanical features, is thought to promote self-renewal of articular cartilage, and is thus important for joint long-term function, but the mechanisms regulating its properties remain unclear. Previous studies revealed that Wnt/β-catenin signaling is continuously active in SFZ, indicating that it may be essential for SFZ function. Thus, we examined whether Wnt/β-catenin signaling regulates proliferation and phenotypic expression in SFZ cells. Using transgenic mice, we found that acute activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling increases SFZ thickness, Proteoglycan 4 (Prg4, also called lubricin) expression and the number of slow-cell cycle cells, whereas conditional ablation of β-catenin causes the opposite. We developed a novel method to isolate SFZ cell-rich populations from the epiphyseal articular cartilage of neonatal mice, and found that the SFZ cells in culture exhibit a fibroblastic cytoarchitecture and higher Prg4 and Ets-related gene (Erg) expression and lower aggrecan expression compared with chondrocyte cultures. Gene array analyses indicated that SFZ cells have distinct gene expression profiles compared with underlying articular chondrocytes. Treatment of Wnt3a strongly stimulated SFZ cell proliferation and maintained strong expression of Prg4 and Erg, whereas ablation of β-catenin strongly impaired proliferation and phenotypic expression. When the cells were transplanted into athymic mice, they formed Prg4- and aggrecan-expressing cartilaginous masses attesting to their autonomous phenotypic capacity. Ablation of β-catenin caused a rapid loss of Prg4 gene expression and strong increases in expression of aggrecan and collagen 10, the latter being a trait of hypertrophic chondrocytes. Together, the data reveal that Wnt/β-catenin signaling is a key regulator of SFZ cell phenotype and proliferation, and may be as important for articular cartilage long-term function.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primary cilia regulate limb and axial skeletal formation and hedgehog signaling, but their roles in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) development are unknown. Thus, we created conditional mouse mutants deficient in ciliary transport protein Kif3a in cartilage. In post-natal wild-type mice, primary cilia were occasionally observed on the superior, inferior, or lateral side of condylar cells. Cilia were barely detectable in mutant chondrocytes but were evident in surrounding tissues, attesting to the specificity of chondrocyte Kif3a ablation. Mutant condyles from 3-month-old mice were narrow and flat along their antero-posterior and medio-lateral axes, were often fused with the articular disc, and displayed an irregular bony surface. The polymorphic layer in P15 mutants contained fewer Sox9-expressing chondroprogenitor cells because of reduced mitotic activity, and newly differentiated chondrocytes underwent precocious hypertrophic enlargement accompanied by early activation of Indian hedgehog (Ihh). Interestingly, there was excessive intramembranous ossification along the perichondrium, accompanied by local expression of the hedgehog receptor Patched-1 and up-regulation of Osterix and Collagen I. In summary, Kif3a and primary cilia are required for coordination of chondrocyte maturation, intramembranous bone formation, and chondrogenic condylar growth. Defects in these processes in Kif3a condylar cartilage are likely to reflect abnormal hedgehog signaling topography and dysfunction.
Journal of dental research 05/2011; 90(8):988-94. · 3.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heterotopic ossification consists of ectopic bone formation within soft tissues after surgery or trauma. It can have debilitating consequences, but there is no definitive cure. Here we show that heterotopic ossification was essentially prevented in mice receiving a nuclear retinoic acid receptor-γ (RAR-γ) agonist. Side effects were minimal, and there was no significant rebound effect. To uncover the mechanisms of these responses, we treated mouse mesenchymal stem cells with an RAR-γ agonist and transplanted them into nude mice. Whereas control cells formed ectopic bone masses, cells that had been pretreated with the RAR-γ agonist did not, suggesting that they had lost their skeletogenic potential. The cells became unresponsive to rBMP-2 treatment in vitro and showed decreases in phosphorylation of Smad1, Smad5 and Smad8 and in overall levels of Smad proteins. In addition, an RAR-γ agonist blocked heterotopic ossification in transgenic mice expressing activin receptor-like kinase-2 (ALK2) Q207D, a constitutively active form of the receptor that is related to ALK2 R206H found in individuals with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva. The data indicate that RAR-γ agonists are potent inhibitors of heterotopic ossification in mouse models and, thus, may also be effective against injury-induced and congenital heterotopic ossification in humans.
Nature medicine 04/2011; 17(4):454-60. · 27.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) regulate a number of major developmental processes, but their roles in synovial joint formation remain unknown. Here we created conditional mouse embryo mutants lacking Ext1 in developing joints by mating Ext1(f/f) and Gdf5-Cre mice. Ext1 encodes a subunit of the Ext1/Ext2 Golgi-associated protein complex responsible for heparan sulfate (HS) synthesis. The proximal limb joints did form in the Gdf5-Cre;Ext1(f/f) mutants, but contained an uneven articulating superficial zone that expressed very low lubricin levels. The underlying cartilaginous epiphysis was deranged as well and displayed random patterns of cell proliferation and matrillin-1 and collagen IIA expression, indicative of an aberrant phenotypic definition of the epiphysis itself. Digit joints were even more affected, lacked a distinct mesenchymal interzone and were often fused likely as a result of local abnormal BMP and hedgehog activity and signaling. Interestingly, overall growth and lengthening of long bones were also delayed in the mutants. To test whether Ext1 function is needed for joint formation at other sites, we examined the spine. Indeed, entire intervertebral discs, normally composed by nucleus pulposus surrounded by the annulus fibrosus, were often missing in Gdf5-Cre;Ext1(f/f) mice. When disc remnants were present, they displayed aberrant organization and defective joint marker expression. Similar intervertebral joint defects and fusions occurred in Col2-Cre;β-catenin(f/f) mutants. The study provides novel evidence that local Ext1 expression and HS production are needed to maintain the phenotype and function of joint-forming cells and coordinate local signaling by BMP, hedgehog and Wnt/β-catenin pathways. The data indicate also that defects in joint formation reverberate on, and delay, overall long bone growth.