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Development. 2004 Oct;131(19):4735-42. Epub 2004 Aug 25.

Coordination of chondrocyte differentiation and joint formation by alpha5beta1 integrin in the developing appendicular skeleton.

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  • 1Departamento de Biología Celular y Fisiología, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico.


The control point by which chondrocytes take the decision between the cartilage differentiation program or the joint formation program is unknown. Here, we have investigated the effect of alpha5beta1 integrin inhibitors and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) on joint formation. Blocking of alpha5beta1 integrin by specific antibodies or RGD peptide (arginine-glycine-aspartic acid) induced inhibition of pre-hypertrophic chondrocyte differentiation and ectopic joint formation between proliferating chondrocytes and hypertrophic chondrocytes. Ectopic joint expressed Wnt14, Gdf5, chordin, autotaxin, type I collagen and CD44, while expression of Indian hedgehog and type II collagen was downregulated in cartilage. Expression of these interzone markers confirmed that the new structure is a new joint being formed. In the presence of BMP7, inhibition of alpha5beta1 integrin function still induced the formation of the ectopic joint between proliferating chondrocytes and hypertrophic chondrocytes. By contrast, misexpression of alpha5beta1 integrin resulted in fusion of joints and formation of pre-hypertrophic chondrocytes. These facts indicate that the decision of which cell fate to make pre-joint or pre-hypertrophic is made on the basis of the presence or absence of alpha5beta1 integrin on chondrocytes.

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