Precise spatial restriction of BMP signaling is essential for articular cartilage differentiation.
ABSTRACT: The articular cartilage, which lines the joints of the limb skeleton, is distinct from the adjoining transient cartilage, and yet, it differentiates as a unique population within a contiguous cartilage element. Current literature suggests that articular cartilage and transient cartilage originate from different cell populations. Using a combination of lineage tracing and pulse-chase of actively proliferating chondrocytes, we here demonstrate that, similar to transient cartilage, embryonic articular cartilage cells also originate from the proliferating chondrocytes situated near the distal ends of skeletal anlagen. We show that nascent cartilage cells are capable of differentiating as articular or transient cartilage, depending on exposure to Wnt or BMP signaling, respectively. The spatial organization of the articular cartilage results from a band of Nog-expressing cells, which insulates these proliferating chondrocytes from BMP signaling and allows them to differentiate as articular cartilage under the influence of Wnt signaling emanating from the interzone. Through experiments conducted in both chick and mouse embryos we have developed a model explaining simultaneous growth and differentiation of transient and articular cartilage in juxtaposed domains.
Project description:Both the WNT/β-catenin and hedgehog signaling pathways are important in the regulation of limb development, chondrocyte differentiation, and degeneration of articular cartilage in osteoarthritis (OA). It is not clear how these signaling pathways interact in interzone cell differentiation and synovial joint morphogenesis. Here, we determined that constitutive activation of hedgehog signaling specifically within interzone cells induces joint morphological changes by selectively inhibiting β-catenin-induced Fgf18 expression. Stabilization of β-catenin or treatment with FGF18 rescued hedgehog-induced phenotypes. Hedgehog signaling induced expression of a dominant negative isoform of TCF7L2 (dnTCF7L2) in interzone progeny, which may account for the selective regulation of β-catenin target genes observed. Knockdown of TCF7L2 isoforms in mouse chondrocytes rescued hedgehog signaling-induced Fgf18 downregulation, while overexpression of the human dnTCF7L2 orthologue (dnTCF4) in human chondrocytes promoted the expression of catabolic enzymes associated with OA. Similarly, expression of dnTCF4 in human chondrocytes positively correlated with the aggrecanase ADAMTS4. Consistent with our developmental findings, activation of β-catenin also attenuated hedgehog-induced or surgically induced articular cartilage degeneration in mouse models of OA. Thus, our results demonstrate that hedgehog inhibits selective β-catenin target gene expression to direct interzone progeny fates and articular cartilage development and disease. Moreover, agents that increase β-catenin activity have the potential to therapeutically attenuate articular cartilage degeneration as part of OA.
Project description:Osteoarthritis is, at least in a subset of patients, associated with hypertrophic differentiation of articular chondrocytes. Recently, we identified the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and wingless-type MMTV integration site (WNT) signaling antagonists Gremlin 1 (GREM1), frizzled-related protein (FRZB) and dickkopf 1 homolog (Xenopus laevis) (DKK1) as articular cartilage's natural brakes of hypertrophic differentiation. In this study, we investigated whether factors implicated in osteoarthritis or regulation of chondrocyte hypertrophy influence GREM1, FRZB and DKK1 expression levels.GREM1, FRZB and DKK1 mRNA levels were studied in articular cartilage from healthy preadolescents and healthy adults as well as in preserved and degrading osteoarthritic cartilage from the same osteoarthritic joint by quantitative PCR. Subsequently, we exposed human articular chondrocytes to WNT, BMP, IL-1?, Indian hedgehog, parathyroid hormone-related peptide, mechanical loading, different medium tonicities or distinct oxygen levels and investigated GREM1, FRZB and DKK1 expression levels using a time-course analysis.GREM1, FRZB and DKK1 mRNA expression were strongly decreased in osteoarthritis. Moreover, this downregulation is stronger in degrading cartilage compared with macroscopically preserved cartilage from the same osteoarthritic joint. WNT, BMP, IL-1? signaling and mechanical loading regulated GREM1, FRZB and DKK1 mRNA levels. Indian hedgehog, parathyroid hormone-related peptide and tonicity influenced the mRNA levels of at least one antagonist, while oxygen levels did not demonstrate any statistically significant effect. Interestingly, BMP and WNT signaling upregulated the expression of each other's antagonists.Together, the current study demonstrates an inverse correlation between osteoarthritis and GREM1, FRZB and DKK1 gene expression in cartilage and provides insight into the underlying transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, we show that BMP and WNT signaling are linked in a negative feedback loop, which might prove essential in articular cartilage homeostasis by balancing BMP and WNT activity.
Project description:The importance of canonical transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling during cartilage and joint development is well established, but the necessity for noncanonical (SMAD-independent) signaling during these processes is largely unknown. TGF-beta activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is a MAP3K activated by TGF-beta, BMP, and other mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling components. We set out to define the potential role for noncanonical, TAK1-mediated signaling in cartilage and joint development via deletion of Tak1 in chondrocytes (Col2Cre;Tak1(f/f)) and the developing limb mesenchyme (Prx1Cre;Tak1(f/f)). Deletion of Tak1 in chondrocytes resulted in novel embryonic developmental cartilage defects including decreased chondrocyte proliferation, reduced proliferating chondrocyte survival, delayed onset of hypertrophy, reduced Mmp13 expression, and a failure to maintain interzone cells of the elbow joint, which were not observed previously in another Col2Cre;Tak1(f/f) model. Deletion of Tak1 in limb mesenchyme resulted in widespread joint fusions likely owing to the differentiation of interzone cells to the chondrocyte lineage. The Prx1Cre;Tak1(f/f) model also allowed us to identify novel columnar chondrocyte organization and terminal maturation defects owing to the interplay between chondrocytes and the surrounding mesenchyme. Furthermore, both our in vivo models and in vitro cell culture studies demonstrate that loss of Tak1 results in impaired activation of the downstream MAPK target p38, as well as diminished activation of the BMP/SMAD signaling pathway. Taken together, these data demonstrate that TAK1 is a critical regulator of both MAPK and BMP signaling and is necessary for proper cartilage and joint development.
Project description:The balance between anabolic and catabolic signaling pathways is critical in maintaining cartilage homeostasis and its disturbance contributes to joint diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA). A unique mechanism that modulates the activity of cell signaling pathways is controlled by extracellular heparan endosulfatases Sulf-1 and Sulf-2 (Sulfs) that are overexpressed in OA cartilage. This study addressed the role of Sulfs in cartilage homeostasis and in regulating bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)/Smad and fibroblast growth factor (FGF)/Erk signaling in articular cartilage. Spontaneous cartilage degeneration and surgically induced OA were significantly more severe in Sulf-1(-/-) and Sulf-2(-/-) mice compared with wild-type mice. MMP-13, ADAMTS-5, and the BMP antagonist noggin were elevated whereas col2a1 and aggrecan were reduced in cartilage and chondrocytes from Sulf(-/-) mice. Articular cartilage and cultured chondrocytes from Sulf(-/-) mice showed reduced Smad1 protein expression and Smad1/5 phosphorylation, whereas Erk1/2 phosphorylation was increased. In human chondrocytes, Sulfs siRNA reduced Smad phosphorylation but enhanced FGF-2-induced Erk1/2 signaling. These findings suggest that Sulfs simultaneously enhance BMP but inhibit FGF signaling in chondrocytes and maintain cartilage homeostasis. Approaches to correct abnormal Sulf expression have the potential to protect against cartilage degradation and promote cartilage repair in OA.
Project description:Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic inflammatory and progressive joint disease that results in cartilage degradation and subchondral bone remodeling. The proinflammatory cytokine interleukin 1 beta (IL-1?) is abundantly expressed in OA and plays a crucial role in cartilage remodeling, although its role in the activity of chondrocytes in cartilage and subchondral remodeling remains unclear. In this study, stimulating chondrogenic ATDC5 cells with IL-1? increased the levels of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2), promoted articular cartilage degradation, and enhanced structural remodeling. Immunohistochemistry staining and microcomputed tomography imaging of the subchondral trabecular bone region in the experimental OA rat model revealed that the OA disease promotes levels of IL-1?, BMP-2, and matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13) expression in the articular cartilage and enhances subchondral bone remodeling. The intra-articular injection of Noggin protein (a BMP-2 inhibitor) attenuated subchondral bone remodeling and disease progression in OA rats. We also found that IL-1? increased BMP-2 expression by activating the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and specificity protein 1 (Sp1) signaling pathways. We conclude that IL-1? promotes BMP-2 expression in chondrocytes via the MEK/ERK/Sp1 signaling pathways. The administration of Noggin protein reduces the expression of IL-1? and BMP-2, which prevents cartilage degeneration and OA development.
Project description:Hypertrophic maturation of chondrocytes is a crucial step in endochondral ossification, whereas abnormally accelerated differentiation of hypertrophic chondrocytes in articular cartilage is linked to pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. This cellular process is promoted or inhibited by bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) or transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) signaling, respectively, suggesting that these signaling pathways cross-talk during chondrocyte maturation. Here, we demonstrated that expression of Tgfb1 was increased, followed by phosphorylation of Smad2, during BMP-2-induced hypertrophic maturation of ATDC5 chondrocytes. Application of a TGF-? type I receptor inhibitor compound, SB431542, increased the expression of Id1, without affecting the phosphorylation status of Smad1/5/8, indicating that the activated endogenous TGF-? pathway inhibited BMP signaling downstream of the Smad activation step. We searched for TGF-?-inducible effectors that are able to inhibit BMP signaling in ATDC5 cells and identified SnoN. Overexpression of SnoN suppressed the activity of a BMP-responsive luciferase reporter in COS-7 cells as well as expression of Id1 in ATDC5 cells and, subsequently, the expression of Col10a1, a hallmark of hypertrophic chondrocyte maturation. siRNA-mediated loss of SnoN showed opposite effects in BMP-treated ATDC5 cells. In adult mice, we found the highest level of SnoN expression in articular cartilage. Importantly, SnoN was expressed, in combination with phosphorylated Smad2/3, in prehypertrophic chondrocytes in the growth plate of mouse embryo bones and in chondrocytes around the ectopically existing hypertrophic chondrocytes of human osteoarthritis cartilage. Our results indicate that SnoN mediates a negative feedback mechanism evoked by TGF-? to inhibit BMP signaling and, subsequently, hypertrophic maturation of chondrocytes.
Project description:The synovial joint forms from a pool of progenitor cells in the future region of the joint, the interzone. Expression of Gdf5 and Wnt9a has been used to mark the earliest cellular processes in the formation of the interzone and the progenitor cells. However, lineage specification and progression toward the different tissues of the joint are not well understood. Here, by lineage-tracing studies we identify a population of Lgr5+ interzone cells that contribute to the formation of cruciate ligaments, synovial membrane, and articular chondrocytes of the joint. This finding is supported by single-cell transcriptome analyses. We show that Col22a1, a marker of early articular chondrocytes, is co-expressed with Lgr5+ cells prior to cavitation as an important lineage marker specifying the progression toward articular chondrocytes. Lgr5+ cells contribute to the repair of a joint defect with the re-establishment of a Col22a1-expressing superficial layer.
Project description:Articular and growth plate cartilage both arise from condensations of mesenchymal cells, but ultimately develop important histological and functional differences. Each is composed of three layers-the superficial, mid and deep zones of articular cartilage and the resting, proliferative and hypertrophic zones of growth plate cartilage. The bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) system plays an important role in cartilage development. A gradient in expression of BMP-related genes has been observed across growth plate cartilage, likely playing a role in zonal differentiation. To investigate the presence of a similar expression gradient in articular cartilage, we used laser capture microdissection (LCM) to separate murine growth plate and articular cartilage from the proximal tibia into their six constituent zones, and used a solution hybridization assay with color-coded probes (nCounter) to quantify mRNAs for 30 different BMP-related genes in each zone. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry were then used to confirm spatial expression patterns. Expression gradients for Bmp2 and 6 were observed across growth plate cartilage with highest expression in hypertrophic zone. However, intracellular BMP signaling, assessed by phospho-Smad1/5/8 immunohistochemical staining, appeared to be higher in the proliferative zone and prehypertrophic area than in hypertrophic zone, possibly due to high expression of Smad7, an inhibitory Smad, in the hypertrophic zone. We also found BMP expression gradients across the articular cartilage with BMP agonists primarily expressed in the superficial zone and BMP functional antagonists primarily expressed in the deep zone. Phospho-Smad1/5/8 immunohistochemical staining showed a similar gradient. In combination with previous evidence that BMPs regulate chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation, the current findings suggest that BMP signaling gradients exist across both growth plate and articular cartilage and that these gradients may contribute to the spatial differentiation of chondrocytes in the postnatal endochondral skeleton.
Project description:Cartilage defect is an intractable clinical problem. Therapeutic strategies for cartilage repair are far from optimal due to poor proliferation capacity of chondrocytes. Autologous chondrocyte implantation is a cell based therapy that uses in vitro amplified healthy chondrocytes from the patient. However, chondrocyte dedifferentiation during in vitro culture limits its application. Neuroleukin (NLK) is a multifunctional protein that stimulates cell growth and migration, together with its receptor autocrine motility factor receptor (AMFR, also called gp78). We investigated expression of NLK and AMFR/gp78 during cartilage development in vivo and in cultured articular chondrocytes in vitro, and found the pair associates with chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation. While applied to isolated articular chondrocytes, NLK promotes cell proliferation and secretion of type II collagen, a marker of proliferating chondrocytes. Further work demonstrates that NLK up regulates pAKT and pSmad2/3, but down regulates pSmad1/5. In animals, NLK treatment also promotes chondrocyte proliferation while inhibits terminal differentiation, leading to expanded proliferating zone but decreased prehypertrophic and hypertrophic zones in the growth plate region. NLK is therefore a candidate factor that can be applied in the treatment of cartilage defects.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: To identify factors that are responsible for the phenotypic differences between transient chondrocytes within human osteophytes prone to endochondral ossification and permanent chondrocytes within articular cartilage persisting for decades. METHODS: Differential gene expression of chondrocytes from human osteophytes or from articular cartilage was detected by cDNA microarray analysis. The expression of pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), one of the most impressively differentially expressed genes, was validated by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction as well as immunohistochemistry. The mode of action of PEDF was explored by cell viability assays and by detecting target genes. RESULTS: PEDF mRNA expression was upregulated by 118.5-fold (P = 0.01) in human osteophytic cartilage compared with articular cartilage, which was reflected by strong immunostaining for PEDF in the cartilaginous layer of osteophytes but largely negative staining in articular cartilage. Elevated levels of PEDF in osteophytes were associated with enhanced apoptosis. PEDF increased the expression of the proapoptotic factor FasL and induced cell death in cell culture. Osteochondral progenitor cells were more responsive to PEDF than differentiated articular chondrocytes. CONCLUSIONS: The induction of the proapoptotic factor PEDF within the osteophyte cartilage suggests a molecular concept for the transient chondrocyte phenotype that arises from progenitor cells and is prone to terminal differentiation and cell death.