Inhibition of beta-catenin signaling in articular chondrocytes results in articular cartilage destruction.
ABSTRACT: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease whose molecular mechanism is currently unknown. Wnt/beta-catenin signaling has been demonstrated to play a critical role in the development and function of articular chondrocytes. To determine the role of beta-catenin signaling in articular chondrocyte function, we generated Col2a1-ICAT-transgenic mice to inhibit beta-catenin signaling in chondrocytes.The expression of the ICAT transgene was determined by immunostaining and Western blot analysis. Histologic analyses were performed to determine changes in articular cartilage structure and morphology. Cell apoptosis was determined by TUNEL staining and the immunostaining of cleaved caspase 3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) proteins. Expression of Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L), and Bax proteins and caspase 9 and caspase 3/7 activities were examined in primary sternal chondrocytes isolated from 3-day-old neonatal Col2a1-ICAT-transgenic mice and their wild-type littermates and in primary chicken and porcine articular chondrocytes.Expression of the ICAT transgene was detected in articular chondrocytes of the transgenic mice. Associated with this, age-dependent articular cartilage destruction was observed in Col2a1-ICAT-transgenic mice. A significant increase in cell apoptosis in articular chondrocytes was identified by TUNEL staining and the immunostaining of cleaved caspase 3 and PARP proteins in these transgenic mice. Consistent with this, Bcl-2 and Bcl-x(L) expression were decreased and caspase 9 and caspase 3/7 activity were increased, suggesting that increased cell apoptosis may contribute significantly to the articular cartilage destruction observed in Col2a1-ICAT-transgenic mice.Inhibition of beta-catenin signaling in articular chondrocytes causes increased cell apoptosis and articular cartilage destruction in Col2a1-ICAT- transgenic mice.
Project description:The Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway is essential for normal skeletal development because conditional gain or loss of function of beta-catenin in cartilage results in embryonic or early postnatal death. To address the role of beta-catenin in postnatal skeletal growth and development, Col2a1-ICAT transgenic mice were generated. Mice were viable and had normal size at birth, but became progressively runted. Transgene expression was limited to the chondrocytes in the growth plate and articular cartilages and was associated with decreased beta-catenin signaling. Col2a1-ICAT transgenic mice showed reduced chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation, and an increase in chondrocyte apoptosis, leading to decreased widths of the proliferating and hypertrophic zones, delayed formation of the secondary ossification center, and reduced skeletal growth. Isolated primary Col2a1-ICAT transgenic chondrocytes showed reduced expression of chondrocyte genes associated with maturation, and demonstrated that VEGF gene expression requires cooperative interactions between BMP2 and beta-catenin signaling. Altogether the findings confirm a crucial role for Wnt/beta-catenin in postnatal growth.
Project description:Appropriate and controlled chondrogenesis and endochondral ossification play fundamental roles in the fracture healing cascade, a regenerative process involved in highly coordinated biological events, including the Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway. To examine the role and importance of this pathway in chondrocytes, we studied bone repair of closed tibias fractures in Col2a1-ICAT transgenic mice, in which the Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway is specially inhibited in chondrocytes. Radiological, histological, and histomorphometric analyses at 7, 9, 12, 14, 21, and 28 days after fracture demonstrated the bone repairs were retarded in Col2a1-ICAT transgenic mice, due to reduced and delayed cartilage formation, chondrocyte hypertrophy, and bone generation. In addition, at 5 weeks, Col2a1-ICAT transgenic mice exhibited a weak mechanical tolerance to four-point bending. Furthermore, quantitative-PCR analysis revealed that the expression of genes associated specifically with cartilage extracellular matrix formation (collagen II, collagen X, and mmp13), bone remodeling (alp, collagen I, and osteocalcin), and vascular extravagation (vegf), and transcriptional activators involved in cartilage generation and ossification (sox9 and runx2) was decreased and delayed in the fracture sites of Col2a1-ICAT transgenic mice during healing. Collectively, these results suggest that Wnt/?-catenin signaling is critical for fracture healing, especially with respect to chondrogenesis and endochondral ossification. Thus, our study provides insight into the possible mechanisms of and therapeutic targets for improving normal facture repair and the healing of non-union fractures.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: Hypoxia-inducible factor 2? (HIF-2?), encoded by Epas1, causes osteoarthritic cartilage destruction by regulating the expression of matrix-degrading enzymes. We undertook this study to explore the role of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT or visfatin) in HIF-2?-mediated osteoarthritic cartilage destruction. METHODS: The expression of HIF-2?, NAMPT and matrix-degrading enzymes was determined at the mRNA and protein levels in human osteoarthritis (OA) cartilage, mouse experimental OA cartilage and primary cultured mouse chondrocytes. Experimental OA in mice was induced by destabilisation of the medial meniscus (DMM) surgery or intra-articular injection of Ad-Epas1 or Ad-Nampt in wild-type, Epas1(+/-), Epas1(fl/fl);Col2a1-Cre and Col2a1-Nampt transgenic (TG) mice. Primary cultured mouse chondrocytes were treated with recombinant NAMPT protein or were infected with adenoviruses. RESULTS: We found that the Nampt gene is a direct target of HIF-2? in articular chondrocytes and OA cartilage. NAMPT protein, in turn, increased mRNA levels and activities of MMP3, MMP12 and MMP13 in chondrocytes, an action that was necessary for HIF-2?-induced expression of catabolic enzymes. Gain-of-function studies (intra-articular injection of Ad-Nampt; Col2a1-Nampt TG mice) and loss-of-function studies (intra-articular injection of the NAMPT inhibitor FK866) demonstrated that NAMPT is an essential catabolic regulator of osteoarthritic cartilage destruction caused by HIF-2? or DMM surgery. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that NAMPT, whose corresponding gene is a direct target of HIF-2?, plays an essential catabolic role in OA pathogenesis and acts as a crucial mediator of osteoarthritic cartilage destruction caused by HIF-2? or DMM surgery.
Project description:To examine the role of connective tissue growth factor CCN2/CTGF (CCN2) in the maintenance of the articular cartilaginous phenotype, we analyzed knee joints from aging transgenic mice (TG) overexpressing CCN2 driven by the Col2a1 promoter. Knee joints from 3-, 14-, 40-, and 60-day-old and 5-, 12-, 18-, 21-, and 24-month-old littermates were analyzed. Ccn2-LacZ transgene expression in articular cartilage was followed by X-gal staining until 5 months of age. Overexpression of CCN2 protein was confirmed through all ages in TG articular cartilage and in growth plates. Radiographic analysis of knee joints showed a narrowing joint space and other features of osteoarthritis in 50% of WT, but not in any of the TG mice. Transgenic articular cartilage showed enhanced toluidine blue and safranin-O staining as well as chondrocyte proliferation but reduced staining for type X and I collagen and MMP-13 as compared with those parameters for WT cartilage. Staining for aggrecan neoepitope, a marker of aggrecan degradation in WT articular cartilage, increased at 5 and 12 months, but disappeared at 24 months due to loss of cartilage; whereas it was reduced in TG articular cartilage after 12 months. Expression of cartilage genes and MMPs under cyclic tension stress (CTS) was measured by using primary cultures of chondrocytes obtained from wild-type (WT) rib cartilage and TG or WT epiphyseal cartilage. CTS applied to primary cultures of mock-transfected rib chondrocytes from WT cartilage and WT epiphyseal cartilage induced expression of Col1a1, ColXa1, Mmp-13, and Mmp-9 mRNAs; however, their levels were not affected in CCN2-overexpressing chondrocytes and TG epiphyseal cartilage. In conclusion, cartilage-specific overexpression of CCN2 during the developmental and growth periods reduced age-related changes in articular cartilage. Thus CCN2 may play a role as an anti-aging factor by stabilizing articular cartilage.
Project description:Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease involving both cartilage and synovium. The canonical Wnt/?-catenin pathway, which is activated in OA, is emerging as an important regulator of tissue repair and fibrosis. This study seeks to examine Wnt pathway effects on synovial fibroblasts and articular chondrocytes as well as the therapeutic effects of Wnt inhibition on OA disease severity. Mice underwent destabilization of the medial meniscus surgery and were treated by intra-articular injection with XAV-939, a small-molecule inhibitor of Wnt/?-catenin signaling. Wnt/?-catenin signaling was highly activated in murine synovial fibroblasts as well as in OA-derived human synovial fibroblasts. XAV-939 ameliorated OA severity associated with reduced cartilage degeneration and synovitis in vivo. Wnt inhibition using mechanistically distinct small-molecule inhibitors, XAV-939 and C113, attenuated the proliferation and type I collagen synthesis in synovial fibroblasts in vitro but did not affect human OA-derived chondrocyte proliferation. However, Wnt modulation increased COL2A1 and PRG4 transcripts, which are downregulated in chondrocytes in OA. In conclusion, therapeutic Wnt inhibition reduced disease severity in a model of traumatic OA via promoting anticatabolic effects on chondrocytes and antifibrotic effects on synovial fibroblasts and may be a promising class of drugs for the treatment of OA.
Project description:Objective : To study molecular changes in the articular cartilage and subchondral bone of the tibial plateau from mice deficient in frizzled related protein (Frzb) compared to wild-type mice by transcriptome analysis. Methods : Gene-expression analysis of the articular cartilage and subchondral bone of 3 wild-type and 3 Frzb-/- mice was performed by microarray. Pathway analysis of differentially expressed genes between 3 wild-type and 2 Frzb-/- samples was explored with PANTHER, DAVID and GSEA bioinformatics tools. Activation of the WNT pathway was analyzed using western blot. The effects of Frzb gain and loss of function on chondrogenesis and cell proliferation was examined using ATDC5 micromasses and mouse ribcage chondrocytes. Results : Extracellular matrix-associated integrin and cadherin pathways, as well as WNT pathway genes were upregulated in Frzb-/- samples. Several WNT receptors, target genes, and other antagonists were upregulated, but no difference in active ?-catenin was found. Analysis of ATDC5 cell micromasses overexpressing FRZB indicated an upregulation of aggrecan and Col2a1, and downregulation of molecules related to damage and repair in cartilage, Col3a1 and Col5a1. Silencing of Frzb resulted in downregulation of aggrecan and Col2a1. Pathways associated with cell cycle were downregulated. Ribcage chondrocytes derived from Frzb-/- mice showed decreased proliferation compared to wild-type cells. Conclusions : Our analysis provides evidence for tight regulation of WNT signaling, shifts in extracellular matrix components and effects on cell proliferation and differentiation in the articular cartilage - subchondral bone unit in Frzb-/- mice. These data further support an important role for FRZB in joint homeostasis and highlight the complex biology of WNT signaling in the joint. Gene-expression analysis of the articular cartilage and subchondral bone of 3 wild-type and 3 Frzb-/- mice was performed by microarray. Pathway analysis of differentially expressed genes between 3 wild-type and 2 Frzb-/- samples was explored with PANTHER, DAVID and GSEA bioinformatics tools.
Project description:The ability of SV40 T antigen to cause abnormalities in cartilage development in transgenic mice and chimeras has been tested. The cis-regulatory elements of the COL2A1 gene were used to target expression of SV40 T antigen to differentiating chondrocytes in transgenic mice and chimeras derived from embryonal stem (ES) cells bearing the same transgene. The major phenotypic consequences of transgenic (pAL21) expression are malformed skeleton, disproportionate dwarfism, and perinatal/neonatal death. Expression of T antigen was tissue specific and in the main characteristic of the mouse alpha 1(II) collagen gene. Chondrocyte densities and levels of alpha 1(II) collagen mRNAs were reduced in the transgenic mice. Islands of cells which express cartilage characteristic genes such as type IIB procollagen, long form alpha 1(IX) collagen, alpha 2(XI) collagen, and aggrecan were found in the articular and growth cartilages of pAL21 chimeric fetuses and neonates. But these cells, which were expressing T antigen, were not properly organized into columns of proliferating chondrocytes. Levels of alpha 1(II) collagen mRNA were reduced in these chondrocytes. In addition, these cells did not express type X collagen, a marker for hypertrophic chondrocytes. The skeletal abnormality in pAL21 mice may therefore be due to a retardation of chondrocyte maturation or an impaired ability of chondrocytes to complete terminal differentiation and an associated paucity of some cartilage matrix components.
Project description:Subjects with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) often show early-onset osteoarthritis (OA); however, the molecular mechanisms underlying this pathology are not known. We investigated whether cellular changes in chondrocytes from OA cartilage can be detected in chondrocytes from DDH cartilage before histological manifestations of degeneration. We characterized undamaged and damaged articular cartilage from 22 participants having hip replacement surgery with and without DDH (9 DDH-OA, 12 OA-only, one femoral fracture). Tissue immunostaining revealed changes in damaged OA-only cartilage that was also found in undamaged DDH-OA cartilage. Chondrocytes in situ from both groups show: (i) thicker fibers of vimentin intermediate filaments, (ii) clusters of integrin ?5?1, (iii) positive MMP13 staining and (iv) a higher percentage of cells expressing the serine protease HtrA1. Further characterization of the extracellular matrix showed strong aggrecan and collagen II immunostaining in undamaged DDH cartilage, with no evidence of augmented cell death by activation of caspase 3. These findings suggest that early events in DDH cartilage originate at the chondrocyte level and that DDH cartilage may provide a novel opportunity to study these early changes for the development of therapeutic targets for OA.
Project description:Articular cartilage undergoes an important maturation process from neonate to adult that is reflected by alterations in matrix protein organization and increased heterogeneity of chondrocyte morphology. In the horse, these changes are influenced by exercise during the first five months of postnatal life. Transcriptional profiling was used to evaluate changes in articular chondrocyte gene expression during postnatal growth and development.Total RNA was isolated from the articular cartilage of neonatal (0-10 days) and adult (4-5 years) horses, subjected to one round of linear RNA amplification, and then applied to a 9,367-element equine-specific cDNA microarray. Comparisons were made with a dye-swap experimental design. Microarray results for selected genes (COL2A1, COMP, P4HA1, TGFB1, TGFBR3, TNC) were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).Fifty-six probe sets, which represent 45 gene products, were up-regulated (p < 0.01) in chondrocytes of neonatal articular cartilage relative to chondrocytes of adult articular cartilage. Conversely, 586 probe sets, which represent 499 gene products, were up-regulated (p < 0.01) in chondrocytes of adult articular cartilage relative to chondrocytes of neonatal articular cartilage. Collagens, matrix-modifying enzymes, and provisional matrix non-collagenous proteins were expressed at higher levels in the articular cartilage of newborn foals. Those genes with increased mRNA abundance in adult chondrocytes included leucine-rich small proteoglycans, matrix assembly, and cartilage maintenance proteins.Differential expression of genes encoding matrix proteins and matrix-modifying enzymes between neonates and adults reflect a cellular maturation process in articular chondrocytes. Up-regulated transcripts in neonatal cartilage are consistent with growth and expansion of the articular surface. Expression patterns in mature articular cartilage indicate a transition from growth to homeostasis, and tissue function related to withstanding shear and weight-bearing stresses.
Project description: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/?-catenin signaling is continuously active in SFZ, indicating that it may be essential for SFZ function. Thus, we examined whether Wnt/?-catenin signaling regulates proliferation and phenotypic expression in SFZ cells. Using transgenic mice, we found that acute activation of Wnt/?-catenin signaling increases SFZ thickness, Proteoglycan 4 (Prg4, also called lubricin) expression and the number of slow-cell cycle cells, whereas conditional ablation of ?-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 ?-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 ?-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/?-catenin signaling is a key regulator of SFZ cell phenotype and proliferation, and may be as important for articular cartilage long-term function.