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Discovery of genotype-phenotype relationships remains a major challenge in clinical medicine. Here, we combined three sources of phenotypic data to uncover a new mechanism for rare and common diseases resulting from collagen secretion deficits. Using a zebrafish genetic screen, we identified the ric1 gene as being essential for skeletal biology. Using a gene-based phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) in the EHR-linked BioVU biobank, we show that reduced genetically determined expression of RIC1 is associated with musculoskeletal and dental conditions. Whole-exome sequencing identified individuals homozygous-by-descent for a rare variant in RIC1 and, through a guided clinical re-evaluation, it was discovered that they share signs with the BioVU-associated phenome. We named this new Mendelian syndrome CATIFA (cleft lip, cataract, tooth abnormality, intellectual disability, facial dysmorphism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and revealed further disease mechanisms. This gene-based, PheWAS-guided approach can accelerate the discovery of clinically relevant disease phenome and associated biological mechanisms.
Long bone strength is determined by its outer shell (cortical bone), which forms by coalescence of thin trabeculae at the metaphysis (corticalization), but the factors that control this process are unknown. Here we show that SOCS3-dependent cytokine expression regulates bone corticalization. Young male and female Dmp1Cre.Socs3 mice, in which SOCS3 has been ablated in osteocytes, have high trabecular bone volume and poorly defined metaphyseal cortices. After puberty, male mice recover, but female corticalization is still impaired, leading to a lasting defect in bone strength. The phenotype depends on sex-steroid hormones: dihydrotestosterone treatment of gonadectomized female Dmp1Cre.Socs3 mice restores normal cortical morphology, whereas in males, estradiol treatment, or IL-6 deletion, recapitulates the female phenotype. This suggests that androgen action promotes metaphyseal corticalization, at least in part, via IL-6 signaling.The strength of long bones is determined by coalescence of trabeculae during corticalization. Here the authors show that this process is regulated by SOCS3 via a mechanism dependent on IL-6 and expression of sex hormones.
OBJECTIVE - Regulated in development and DNA damage response 1 (REDD1) is an endogenous inhibitor of mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) that regulates cellular stress responses. REDD1 expression is decreased in aged and osteoarthritic (OA) cartilage, and it regulates mTOR signaling and autophagy in articular chondrocytes in vitro. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of REDD1 deletion in vivo using a mouse model of experimental OA.
METHODS - OA severity was histologically assessed in 4-month-old wild-type and REDD1 mice subjected to surgical destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM). Chondrocyte autophagy, apoptosis, mitochondrial content, and expression of mitochondrial biogenesis markers were determined in cartilage and cultured chondrocytes from wild-type and REDD1 mice.
RESULTS - REDD1 deficiency increased the severity of changes in cartilage, menisci, subchondral bone, and synovium in the DMM model of OA. Chondrocyte death was increased in the cartilage of REDD1 mice and in cultured REDD1 mouse chondrocytes under oxidative stress conditions. Expression of key autophagy markers (microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B light chain 3 and autophagy protein 5) was markedly reduced in cartilage from REDD1 mice and in cultured human and mouse chondrocytes with REDD1 depletion. Mitochondrial content, ATP levels, and expression of the mitochondrial biogenesis markers peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) and transcription factor A, mitochondrial (TFAM) were also decreased in REDD1-deficient chondrocytes. REDD1 was required for AMP-activated protein kinase-induced PGC-1α in chondrocytes.
CONCLUSION - Our findings suggest that REDD1 is a key mediator of cartilage homeostasis through regulation of autophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis and that REDD1 deficiency exacerbates the severity of injury-induced OA.
© 2017, American College of Rheumatology.
Aberrant fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) signaling disrupts chondrocyte proliferation and growth plate size and architecture, leading to various chondrodysplasias or bone overgrowth. These observations suggest that the duration, intensity and cellular context of FGFR signaling during growth plate chondrocyte maturation require tight, regulated control for proper bone elongation. However, the machinery fine-tuning FGFR signaling in chondrocytes is incompletely defined. We report here that neurofibromin, a Ras-GAP encoded by Nf1, has an overlapping expression pattern with FGFR1 and FGFR3 in prehypertrophic chondrocytes, and with FGFR1 in hypertrophic chondrocytes during endochondral ossification. Based on previous evidence that neurofibromin inhibits Ras-ERK signaling in chondrocytes and phenotypic analogies between mice with constitutive FGFR1 activation and Nf1 deficiency in Col2a1-positive chondrocytes, we asked whether neurofibromin is required to control FGFR1-Ras-ERK signaling in maturing chondrocytes in vivo. Genetic Nf1 ablation in Fgfr1-deficient chondrocytes reactivated Ras-ERK1/2 signaling in hypertrophic chondrocytes and reversed the expansion of the hypertrophic zone observed in mice lacking Fgfr1 in Col2a1-positive chondrocytes. Histomorphometric and gene expression analyses suggested that neurofibromin, by inhibiting Rankl expression, attenuates pro-osteoclastogenic FGFR1 signaling in hypertrophic chondrocytes. We also provide evidence suggesting that neurofibromin in prehypertrophic chondrocytes, downstream of FGFRs and via an indirect mechanism, is required for normal extension and organization of proliferative columns. Collectively, this study indicates that FGFR signaling provides an important input into the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK1/2 signaling axis in chondrocytes, and that this input is differentially regulated during chondrocyte maturation by a complex intracellular machinery, of which neurofibromin is a critical component.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: email@example.com.
Transcription of BMPs and their antagonists in precise spatiotemporal patterns is essential for proper skeletal development, maturation, maintenance, and repair. Nevertheless, transcriptional activity of these molecules in skeletal tissues beyond embryogenesis has not been well characterized. In this study, we used several transgenic reporter mouse lines to define the transcriptional activity of two potent BMP ligands, Bmp2 and Bmp4, and their antagonist, Noggin, in the postnatal skeleton. At 3 to 4 weeks of age, Bmp4 and Noggin reporter activity was readily apparent in most cells of the osteogenic or chondrogenic lineages, respectively, whereas Bmp2 reporter activity was strongest in terminally differentiated cells of both lineages. By 5 to 6 months, activity of the reporters had generally abated; however, the Noggin and Bmp2 reporters remained remarkably active in articular chondrocytes and persisted there indefinitely. We further found that endogenous Bmp2, Bmp4, and Noggin transcript levels in postnatal bone and cartilage mirrored the activity of their respective reporters in these tissues. Finally, we found that the activity of the Bmp2, Bmp4, and Noggin reporters in bone and cartilage at 3 to 4 weeks could be recapitulated in both osteogenic and chondrogenic culture models. These results reveal that Bmp2, Bmp4, and Noggin transcription persists to varying degrees in skeletal tissues postnatally, with each gene exhibiting its own cell type-specific pattern of activity. Illuminating these patterns and their dynamics will guide future studies aimed at elucidating both the causes and consequences of aberrant BMP signaling in the postnatal skeleton.
© 2014 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE - The goal of this study was to determine the role of the collagen binding receptor integrin α1β1 in regulating osmotically induced [Ca(2+)]i transients in chondrocytes.
METHOD - The [Ca(2+)]i transient response of chondrocytes to osmotic stress was measured using real-time confocal microscopy. Chondrocytes from wildtype and integrin α1-null mice were imaged ex vivo (in the cartilage of intact murine femora) and in vitro (isolated from the matrix, attached to glass coverslips). Immunocytochemistry was performed to detect the presence of the osmosensor, transient receptor potential vanilloid-4 (TRPV4), and the agonist GSK1016790A (GSK101) was used to test for its functionality on chondrocytes from wildtype and integrin α1-null mice.
RESULTS/INTERPRETATION - Deletion of the integrin α1 subunit inhibited the ability of chondrocytes to respond to a hypo-osmotic stress with [Ca(2+)]i transients ex vivo and in vitro. The percentage of chondrocytes responding ex vivo was smaller than in vitro and of the cells that responded, more single [Ca(2+)]i transients were observed ex vivo compared to in vitro. Immunocytochemistry confirmed the presence of TRPV4 on wildtype and integrin α1-null chondrocytes, however application of GSK101 revealed that TRPV4 could be activated on wildtype but not integrin α1-null chondrocytes. Integrin α1β1 is a key participant in chondrocyte transduction of a hypo-osmotic stress. Furthermore, the mechanism by which integrin α1β1 influences osmotransduction is independent of matrix binding, but likely dependent on the chondrocyte osmosensor TRPV4.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Development of the musculoskeletal system requires precise integration of muscles, tendons and bones. The molecular mechanisms involved in the differentiation of each of these tissues have been the focus of significant research; however, much less is known about how these tissues are integrated into a functional unit appropriate for each body position and role. Previous reports have demonstrated crucial roles for Hox genes in patterning the axial and limb skeleton. Loss of Hox11 paralogous gene function results in dramatic malformation of limb zeugopod skeletal elements, the radius/ulna and tibia/fibula, as well as transformation of the sacral region to a lumbar phenotype. Utilizing a Hoxa11eGFP knock-in allele, we show that Hox11 genes are expressed in the connective tissue fibroblasts of the outer perichondrium, tendons and muscle connective tissue of the zeugopod region throughout all stages of development. Hox11 genes are not expressed in differentiated cartilage or bone, or in vascular or muscle cells in these regions. Loss of Hox11 genes disrupts regional muscle and tendon patterning of the limb in addition to affecting skeletal patterning. The tendon and muscle defects in Hox11 mutants are independent of skeletal patterning events as disruption of tendon and muscle patterning is observed in Hox11 compound mutants that do not have a skeletal phenotype. Thus, Hox genes are not simply regulators of skeletal morphology as previously thought, but are key factors that regulate regional patterning and integration of the musculoskeletal system.
The severe defects in growth plate development caused by chondrocyte extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) gain or loss-of-function suggest that tight spatial and temporal regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling is necessary to achieve harmonious growth plate elongation and structure. We provide here evidence that neurofibromin, via its Ras guanosine triphosphatase -activating activity, controls ERK1/2-dependent fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) signaling in chondrocytes. We show first that neurofibromin is expressed in FGFR-positive prehypertrophic and hypertrophic chondrocytes during growth plate endochondral ossification. Using mice lacking neurofibromin 1 (Nf1) in type II collagen-expressing cells, (Nf1col2(-/-) mutant mice), we then show that lack of neurofibromin in post-mitotic chondrocytes triggers a number of phenotypes reminiscent of the ones observed in mice characterized by FGFR gain-of-function mutations. Those include dwarfism, constitutive ERK1/2 activation, strongly reduced Ihh expression and decreased chondrocyte proliferation and maturation, increased chondrocytic expression of Rankl, matrix metalloproteinase 9 (Mmp9) and Mmp13 and enhanced growth plate osteoclastogenesis, as well as increased sensitivity to caspase-9 mediated apoptosis. Using wildtype (WT) and Nf1(-/-) chondrocyte cultures in vitro, we show that FGF2 pulse-stimulation triggers rapid ERK1/2 phosphorylation in both genotypes, but that return to the basal level is delayed in Nf1(-/-) chondrocytes. Importantly, in vivo ERK1/2 inhibition by daily injection of a recombinant form of C-type natriuretic peptide to post-natal pups for 18 days was able to correct the short stature of Nf1col2(-/-) mice. Together, these results underscore the requirement of neurofibromin and ERK1/2 for normal endochondral bone formation and support the notion that neurofibromin, by restraining RAS-ERK1/2 signaling, is a negative regulator of FGFR signaling in differentiating chondrocytes.
Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a soluble interleukin-6 family cytokine that regulates a number of physiologic functions, including normal skeletal remodeling. LIF signals through the cytokine co-receptor glycoprotein-130 in complex with its cytokine-specific receptor [LIF receptor (LIFR)] to activate signaling cascades in cells of the skeletal system, including stromal cells, chondrocytes, osteoblasts, osteocytes, adipocytes, and synovial fibroblasts. LIF action on skeletal cells is cell-type specific, and frequently dependent on the state of cell differentiation. This review describes the expression patterns of LIF and LIFR in bone, their regulation by physiological and inflammatory agents, as well as cell-specific influences of LIF on osteoblast, osteoclast, chondrocyte, and adipocyte differentiation. The actions of LIF in normal skeletal growth and maintenance, in pathological states (e.g. autocrine tumor cell signaling and growth in bone) and inflammatory conditions (e.g. arthritis) will be discussed, as well as the signaling pathways activated by LIF and their importance in bone formation and resorption.
Atf4 is a leucine zipper-containing transcription factor that activates osteocalcin (Ocn) in osteoblasts and indian hedgehog (Ihh) in chondrocytes. The relative contribution of Atf4 in chondrocytes and osteoblasts to the regulation of skeletal development and bone formation is poorly understood. Investigations of the Atf4(-/-);Col2a1-Atf4 mouse model, in which Atf4 is selectively overexpressed in chondrocytes in an Atf4-null background, demonstrate that chondrocyte-derived Atf4 regulates osteogenesis during development and bone remodeling postnatally. Atf4 overexpression in chondrocytes of the Atf4(-/-);Col2a1-Atf4 double mutants corrects the reduction in stature and limb in Atf4(-/-) embryos and rectifies the decrease in Ihh expression, Hh signaling, proliferation and accelerated hypertrophy that characterize the Atf4(-/-) developing growth plate cartilages. Unexpectedly, this genetic manipulation also restores the expression of osteoblastic marker genes, namely Ocn and bone sialoprotein, in Atf4(-/-) developing bones. In Atf4(-/-);Col2a1-Atf4 adult mice, all the defective bone parameters found in Atf4(-/-) mice, including bone volume, trabecular number and thickness, and bone formation rate, are rescued. In addition, the conditioned media of ex vivo cultures from wild-type or Atf4(-/-);Col2a1-Atf4, but not Atf4(-/-) cartilage, corrects the differentiation defects of Atf4(-/-) bone marrow stromal cells and Ihh-blocking antibody eliminates this effect. Together, these data indicate that Atf4 in chondrocytes is required for normal Ihh expression and for its paracrine effect on osteoblast differentiation. Therefore, the cell-autonomous role of Atf4 in chondrocytes dominates the role of Atf4 in osteoblasts during development for the control of early osteogenesis and skeletal growth.