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Nat Cell Biol. 2014 Dec;16(12):1157-67. doi: 10.1038/ncb3067. Epub 2014 Nov 24.

A subset of chondrogenic cells provides early mesenchymal progenitors in growing bones.

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1] Endocrine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA [2] Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.
1] Department of Immunobiology and Hematology, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan [2] Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST), Tokyo 102-0076, Japan.
Endocrine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


The hallmark of endochondral bone development is the presence of cartilaginous templates, in which osteoblasts and stromal cells are generated to form mineralized matrix and support bone marrow haematopoiesis. However, the ultimate source of these mesenchymal cells and the relationship between bone progenitors in fetal life and those in later life are unknown. Fate-mapping studies revealed that cells expressing cre-recombinases driven by the collagen II (Col2) promoter/enhancer and their descendants contributed to, in addition to chondrocytes, early perichondrial precursors before Runx2 expression and, subsequently, to a majority of osteoblasts, Cxcl12 (chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12)-abundant stromal cells and bone marrow stromal/mesenchymal progenitor cells in postnatal life. Lineage-tracing experiments using a tamoxifen-inducible creER system further revealed that early postnatal cells marked by Col2-creER, as well as Sox9-creER and aggrecan (Acan)-creER, progressively contributed to multiple mesenchymal lineages and continued to provide descendants for over a year. These cells are distinct from adult mesenchymal progenitors and thus provide opportunities for regulating the explosive growth that occurs uniquely in growing mammals.

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