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Development. 2012 Mar;139(6):1198-212. doi: 10.1242/dev.070649.

Cartilage-specific RBPjκ-dependent and -independent Notch signals regulate cartilage and bone development.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The Notch signaling pathway has emerged as an important regulator of endochondral bone formation. Although recent studies have examined the role of Notch in mesenchymal and chondro-osteo progenitor cell populations, there has yet to be a true examination of Notch signaling specifically within developing and committed chondrocytes, or a determination of whether cartilage and bone formation are regulated via RBPjκ-dependent or -independent Notch signaling mechanisms. To develop a complete understanding of Notch signaling during cartilage and bone development we generated and compared general Notch gain-of-function (Rosa-NICD(f/+)), RBPjκ-deficient (Rbpjκ(f/f)), and RBPjκ-deficient Notch gain-of-function (Rosa-NICD(f/+);Rbpjκ(f/f)) conditional mutant mice, where activation or deletion of floxed alleles were specifically targeted to mesenchymal progenitors (Prx1Cre) or committed chondrocytes (inducible Col2Cre(ERT2)). These data demonstrate, for the first time, that Notch regulation of chondrocyte maturation is solely mediated via the RBPjκ-dependent pathway, and that the perichodrium or osteogenic lineage probably influences chondrocyte terminal maturation and turnover of the cartilage matrix. Our study further identifies the cartilage-specific RBPjκ-independent pathway as crucial for the proper regulation of chondrocyte proliferation, survival and columnar chondrocyte organization. Unexpectedly, the RBPjκ-independent Notch pathway was also identified as an important long-range cell non-autonomous regulator of perichondral bone formation and an important cartilage-derived signal required for coordinating chondrocyte and osteoblast differentiation during endochondral bone development. Finally, cartilage-specific RBPjκ-independent Notch signaling likely regulates Ihh responsiveness during cartilage and bone development.

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