(1/3372) Mechanisms of GDF-5 action during skeletal development.

Mutations in GDF-5, a member of the TGF-beta superfamily, result in the autosomal recessive syndromes brachypod (bp) in mice and Hunter-Thompson and Grebe-type chondrodysplasias in humans. These syndromes are all characterised by the shortening of the appendicular skeleton and loss or abnormal development of some joints. To investigate how GDF-5 controls skeletogenesis, we overexpressed GDF-5 during chick limb development using the retrovirus, RCASBP. This resulted in up to a 37.5% increase in length of the skeletal elements, which was predominantly due to an increase in the number of chondrocytes. By injecting virus at different stages of development, we show that GDF-5 can increase both the size of the early cartilage condensation and the later developing skeletal element. Using in vitro micromass cultures as a model system to study the early steps of chondrogenesis, we show that GDF-5 increases chondrogenesis in a dose-dependent manner. We did not detect changes in proliferation. However, cell suspension cultures showed that GDF-5 might act at these stages by increasing cell adhesion, a critical determinant of early chondrogenesis. In contrast, pulse labelling experiments of GDF-5-infected limbs showed that at later stages of skeletal development GDF-5 can increase proliferation of chondrocytes. Thus, here we show two mechanisms of how GDF-5 may control different stages of skeletogenesis. Finally, our data show that levels of GDF-5 expression/activity are important in controlling the size of skeletal elements and provides a possible explanation for the variation in the severity of skeletal defects resulting from mutations in GDF-5.  (+info)

(2/3372) Fibrocartilage in tendons and ligaments--an adaptation to compressive load.

Where tendons and ligaments are subject to compression, they are frequently fibrocartilaginous. This occurs at 2 principal sites: where tendons (and sometimes ligaments) wrap around bony or fibrous pulleys, and in the region where they attach to bone, i.e. at their entheses. Wrap-around tendons are most characteristic of the limbs and are commonly wider at their point of bony contact so that the pressure is reduced. The most fibrocartilaginous tendons are heavily loaded and permanently bent around their pulleys. There is often pronounced interweaving of collagen fibres that prevents the tendons from splaying apart under compression. The fibrocartilage can be located within fascicles, or in endo- or epitenon (where it may protect blood vessels from compression or allow fascicles to slide). Fibrocartilage cells are commonly packed with intermediate filaments which could be involved in transducing mechanical load. The ECM often contains aggrecan which allows the tendon to imbibe water and withstand compression. Type II collagen may also be present, particularly in tendons that are heavily loaded. Fibrocartilage is a dynamic tissue that disappears when the tendons are rerouted surgically and can be maintained in vitro when discs of tendon are compressed. Finite element analyses provide a good correlation between its distribution and levels of compressive stress, but at some locations fibrocartilage is a sign of pathology. Enthesis fibrocartilage is most typical of tendons or ligaments that attach to the epiphyses of long bones where it may also be accompanied by sesamoid and periosteal fibrocartilages. It is characteristic of sites where the angle of attachment changes throughout the range of joint movement and it reduces wear and tear by dissipating stress concentration at the bony interface. There is a good correlation between the distribution of fibrocartilage within an enthesis and the levels of compressive stress. The complex interlocking between calcified fibrocartilage and bone contributes to the mechanical strength of the enthesis and cartilage-like molecules (e.g. aggrecan and type II collagen) in the ECM contribute to its ability to withstand compression. Pathological changes are common and are known as enthesopathies.  (+info)

(3/3372) The use of variable lactate/malic dehydrogenase ratios to distinguish between progenitor cells of cartilage and bone in the embryonic chick.

The activities of LDH and MDH have been studied, both in differentiated cartilage and bone from the embryonic chick, and in the pool of mixed osteogenic and chondrogenic stem cells found on the quadratojugal, a membrane bone. In confirmation of the model proposed by Reddi & Huggins (1971) we found that the LDH/MDH ratio was greater than 1 in cartilage and less than 1 in bone. Furthermore we established, for the first time, that ratios occurred in the chondrogenic and osteogenic stem cells, similar to the ratios in their differentiated counterparts. Alteration in LDH/MDH resulted from variations in the level of LDH/mug protein. MDH/mug protein remained constant, even when LDH/MDH was changing. We interpret these results in terms of adaptation of chondrogenic progenitor cells for anaerobic metabolism and anticipate that our model will be applicable to other skeletal systems where stem cells are being studied.  (+info)

(4/3372) Generation and characterization of aggrecanase. A soluble, cartilage-derived aggrecan-degrading activity.

A method was developed for generating soluble, active "aggrecanase" in conditioned media from interleukin-1-stimulated bovine nasal cartilage cultures. Using bovine nasal cartilage conditioned media as a source of the aggrecanase enzyme, an enzymatic assay was established employing purified aggrecan monomers as a substrate and monitoring specific aggrecanase-mediated cleavage products by Western analysis using the monoclonal antibody, BC-3 (which recognizes the new N terminus, ARGS, on fragments produced by cleavage between amino acid residues Glu373 and Ala374). Using this assay we have characterized cartilage aggrecanase with respect to assay kinetics, pH and salt optima, heat sensitivity, and stability upon storage. Aggrecanase activity was inhibited by the metalloprotease inhibitor, EDTA, while a panel of inhibitors of serine, cysteine, and aspartic proteinases had no effect, suggesting that aggrecanase is a metalloproteinase. Sensitivity to known matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors as well as to the endogenous tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases, TIMP-1, further support the notion that aggrecanase is a metalloproteinase potentially related to the ADAM family or MMP family of proteases previously implicated in the catabolism of the extracellular matrix.  (+info)

(5/3372) gas2 is a multifunctional gene involved in the regulation of apoptosis and chondrogenesis in the developing mouse limb.

The growth-arrest-specific 2 (gas2) gene was initially identified on account of its high level of expression in murine fibroblasts under growth arrest conditions, followed by downregulation upon reentry into the cell cycle (Schneider et al., Cell 54, 787-793, 1988). In this study, the expression patterns of the gas2 gene and the Gas2 peptide were established in the developing limbs of 11.5- to 14. 5-day mouse embryos. It was found that gas2 was expressed in the interdigital tissues, the chondrogenic regions, and the myogenic regions. Low-density limb culture and Brdu incorporation assays revealed that gas2 might play an important role in regulating chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation. Moreover, it might play a similar role during limb myogenesis. In addition to chondrogenesis and myogeneis, gas2 is involved in the execution of the apoptotic program in hindlimb interdigital tissues-by acting as a death substrate for caspase enzymes. TUNEL analysis demonstrated that the interdigital tissues underwent apoptosis between 13.5 and 15.5 days. Exactly at these time points, the C-terminal domain of the Gas2 peptide was cleaved as revealed by Western blot analysis. Moreover, pro-caspase-3 (an enzyme that can process Gas2) was cleaved into its active form in the interdigital tissues. The addition of zVAD-fmk, a caspase enzyme inhibitor, to 12.5-day-old hindlimbs maintained in organ culture revealed that the treatment inhibited interdigital cell death. This inhibition correlated with the absence of the Gas2 peptide and pro-caspase-3 cleavage. The data suggest that Gas2 might be involved in the execution of the apoptotic process.  (+info)

(6/3372) Midpalatal suture of osteopetrotic (op/op) mice exhibits immature fusion.

The midpalatal suture was observed histologically in both toothless osteopetrotic (op/op) and normal (control) mice. The normal mice had a mature sutural structure, which consists of a well-developed cartilage cell zone and palatal bone. In contrast, the thickness of the cartilage cell zone was substantially greater in the op/op mice than that in the controls. Moreover, the cartilage cells in the op/op mice were frequently found in the palatal bone as well as in the sutural space, exhibiting an imperfect fusion. It seems that immature fusion at the sutural interface in the op/op mice is related to a decrease in biting or masticatory force accompanied by the failure of tooth eruption in addition to an essential defect in osteoclast differentiation, which is a congenital symptom in op/op mice.  (+info)

(7/3372) Regulation of chondrocyte differentiation by Cbfa1.

Cbfa1, a developmentally expressed transcription factor of the runt family, was recently shown to be essential for osteoblast differentiation. We have investigated the role of Cbfa1 in endochondral bone formation using Cbfa1-deficient mice. Histology and in situ hybridization with probes for indian hedgehog (Ihh), collagen type X and osteopontin performed at E13.5, E14.5 and E17.5 demonstrated a lack of hypertrophic chondrocytes in the anlagen of the humerus and the phalanges and a delayed onset of hypertrophy in radius/ulna in Cbfa1-/- mice. Detailed analysis of Cbfa1 expression using whole mount in situ hybridization and a lacZ reporter gene reveled strong expression not only in osteoblasts but also in pre-hypertrophic and hypertrophic chondrocytes. Our studies identify Cbfa1 as a major positive regulator of chondrocyte differentiation.  (+info)

(8/3372) Strong induction of members of the chitinase family of proteins in atherosclerosis: chitotriosidase and human cartilage gp-39 expressed in lesion macrophages.

Atherosclerosis is initiated by the infiltration of monocytes into the subendothelial space of the vessel wall and subsequent lipid accumulation of the activated macrophages. The molecular mechanisms involved in the anomalous behavior of macrophages in atherogenesis have only partially been disclosed. Chitotriosidase and human cartilage gp-39 (HC gp-39) are members of the chitinase family of proteins and are expressed in lipid-laden macrophages accumulated in various organs during Gaucher disease. In addition, as shown in this study, chitotriosidase and HC gp-39 can be induced with distinct kinetics in cultured macrophages. We investigated the expression of these chitinase-like genes in the human atherosclerotic vessel wall by in situ hybridizations on atherosclerotic specimens derived from femoral artery (4 specimens), aorta (4 specimens), iliac artery (3 specimens), carotid artery (4 specimens), and coronary artery (1 specimen), as well as 5 specimens derived from apparently normal vascular tissue. We show for the first time that chitotriosidase and HC gp-39 expression was strongly upregulated in distinct subsets of macrophages in the atherosclerotic plaque. The expression patterns of chitotriosidase and HC gp-39 were compared and shown to be different from the patterns observed for the extracellular matrix protein osteopontin and the macrophage marker tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase. Our data emphasize the remarkable phenotypic variation among macrophages present in the atherosclerotic lesion. Furthermore, chitotriosidase enzyme activity was shown to be elevated up to 55-fold in extracts of atherosclerotic tissue. Although a function for chitotriosidase and HC gp-39 has not been identified, we hypothesize a role in cell migration and tissue remodeling during atherogenesis.  (+info)