Overexpression of Smurf2 Stimulates Endochondral Ossification Through Upregulation of β-Catenin

Authors

  • Qiuqian Wu MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Orthopaedics, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 665, Rochester, New York, USA
    • Department of Orthopaedics, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 665, Rochester, NY 14642, USA
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  • Di Chen,

    1. Department of Orthopaedics, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 665, Rochester, New York, USA
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  • Michael J Zuscik,

    1. Department of Orthopaedics, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 665, Rochester, New York, USA
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  • Regis J O'Keefe,

    1. Department of Orthopaedics, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 665, Rochester, New York, USA
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  • Randy N Rosier

    1. Department of Orthopaedics, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 665, Rochester, New York, USA
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  • The authors state that they have no conflicts of interest.

Abstract

Ectopic expression of Smurf2 in chondrocytes and perichondrial cells accelerated endochondral ossification by stimulating chondrocyte maturation and osteoblast development through upregulation of β-catenin in Col2a1-Smurf2 embryos. The mechanism underlying Smurf2-mediated morphological changes during embryonic development may provide new mechanistic insights and potential targets for prevention and treatment of human osteoarthritis.

Introduction: Our recent finding that adult Col2a1-Smurf2 mice have an osteoarthritis-like phenotype in knee joints prompted us to examine the role of Smurf2 in the regulation of chondrocyte maturation and osteoblast differentiation during embryonic endochondral ossification.

Materials and Methods: We analyzed gene expression and morphological changes in developing limbs by immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, Western blot, skeletal preparation, and histology. A series of markers for chondrocyte maturation and osteoblast differentiation in developing limbs were examined by in situ hybridization.

Results: Ectopic overexpression of Smurf2 driven by the Col2a1 promoter was detected in chondrocytes and in the perichondrium/periosteum of 16.5 dpc transgenic limbs. Ectopic Smurf2 expression in cells of the chondrogenic lineage inhibited chondrocyte differentiation and stimulated maturation; ectopic Smurf2 in cells of the osteoblastic lineage stimulated osteoblast differentiation. Mechanistically, this could be caused by a dramatic increase in the expression of β-catenin protein levels in the chondrocytes and perichondrial/periosteal cells of the Col2a1-Smurf2 limbs.

Conclusions: Ectopic expression of Smurf2 driven by the Col2a1 promoter accelerated the process of endochondral ossification including chondrocyte maturation and osteoblast differentiation through upregulation of β-catenin, suggesting a possible mechanism for development of osteoarthritis seen in these mice.

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