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Lab Invest. 2010 Jul;90(7):1091-101. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2010.81. Epub 2010 Apr 26.

Primary cilia organization reflects polarity in the growth plate and implies loss of polarity and mosaicism in osteochondroma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Primary cilia are specialized cell surface projections found on most cell types. Involved in several signaling pathways, primary cilia have been reported to modulate cell and tissue organization. Although they have been implicated in regulating cartilage and bone growth, little is known about the organization of primary cilia in the growth plate cartilage and osteochondroma. Osteochondromas are bone tumors formed along the growth plate, and they are caused by mutations in EXT1 or EXT2 genes. In this study, we show the organization of primary cilia within and between the zones of the growth plate and osteochondroma. Using confocal and electron microscopy, we found that in both tissues, primary cilia have a similar formation but a distinct organization. The shortest ciliary length is associated with the proliferative state of the cells, as confirmed by Ki-67 immunostaining. Primary cilia organization in the growth plate showed that non-polarized chondrocytes (resting zone) are becoming polarized (proliferating and hypertrophic zones), orienting the primary cilia parallel to the longitudinal axis of the bone. The alignment of primary cilia forms one virtual axis that crosses the center of the columns of chondrocytes reflecting the polarity axis of the growth plate. We also show that primary cilia in osteochondromas are found randomly located on the cell surface. Strikingly, the growth plate-like polarity was retained in sub-populations of osteochondroma cells that were organized into small columns. Based on this, we propose the existence of a mixture ('mosaic') of normal lining (EXT(+/-) or EXT(wt/wt)) and EXT(-/-) cells in the cartilaginous cap of osteochondromas.

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