Establishing an Immortalized Human Osteoprecursor Cell Line: OPC1



The present studies evaluated the feasibility of establishing a conditionally immortalized osteoprecursor cell line derived from human fetal bone tissue. Primary cultures were transfected with a plasmid in which the Mx-1 promoter drives the expression of SV40 T-antigen when activated by human A/D interferon. Several neomycin (G418)-resistant colonies were characterized for cell growth and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) enzyme activity. The clone, designated OPC1 (osteoblastic precursor cell line 1), which exhibited the highest ALP enzyme activity at passage 10 (P10), was selected for additional osteogenic phenotypic characterization. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) phenotyping revealed abundant mRNA for osteocalcin (OC), osteonectin (ON), osteopontin (OP), parathyroid hormone receptor (PTHr), ALP, and procollagen type I (ProI). In addition, the levels of quantitative RT-PCR product of ON, OP, PTHr, and ProI mRNAs exhibited a marked up-regulation when maintained in medium containing an osteogenic supplement (OS). The ability to stimulate osteogenic differentiation was characterized in postconfluent OPC1 cells maintained in tissue culture medium supplemented with recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) either with or without an OS. All treatment groups exhibited a striking up-regulation of ALP enzyme activity that coincided with ALP histochemical observations. Postconfluent cells also exhibited the ability to form mineralized nodules under all treatments (confirmed by von Kossa histochemical staining and calcium deposition). An enzyme immunosorbent assay (EIA) was utilized to measure intact human OC from the OPC1 line under the various treatments. Abundant OC was evident in the tissue culture medium indicating de novo sythesis and release from the OPC1 line under appropriate conditions. The clonal human-derived OPC1 line represents a homogeneous osteogenic cell line that not only has maintained a consistent bone phenotype from P10 to at least P30, but has also exhibited the capacity to generate programmed differentiation in the presence of low dose rhBMP-2 (10 ng/ml). Thus, the OPC1 line is a human-derived osteoprecursor that provides a sensitive in vitro cell culture system to evaluate bone development, cell/biomaterial interactions, and may be a useful screen for putative bone differentiating factors.