Integrin-linked kinase regulates chondrocyte shape and proliferation



The interaction of chondrocytes with the extracellular-matrix environment is mediated mainly by integrins. Ligated integrins are recruited to focal adhesions (FAs) together with scaffolding proteins and kinases, such as integrin-linked kinase (Ilk). Ilk binds the cytoplasmic domain of β1-, β2- and β3-integrins and recruits adaptors and kinases, and is thought to stimulate downstream signalling events through phosphorylation of protein kinase B/Akt (Pkb/Akt) and glycogen synthase kinase 3-β (GSK3-β). Here, we show that mice with a chondrocyte-specific disruption of the gene encoding Ilk develop chondrodysplasia, and die at birth due to respiratory distress. The chondrodysplasia was characterized by abnormal chondrocyte shape and decreased chondrocyte proliferation. In addition, Ilk-deficient chondrocytes showed adhesion defects, failed to spread and formed fewer FAs and actin stress fibres. Surprisingly, phosphorylation of Pkb/Akt and GSK3-β is unaffected in Ilk-deficient chondrocytes. These findings suggest that Ilk regulates actin reorganization in chondrocytes and modulates chondrocyte growth independently of phosphorylation of Pkb/Akt and GSK3-β.