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Am J Hum Genet. 2004 Apr;74(4):752-60. Epub 2004 Mar 11.

High proportion of mutant osteoblasts is compatible with normal skeletal function in mosaic carriers of osteogenesis imperfecta.

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Section on Heritable Disorders of Bone, Bone and Extracellular Matrix Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Individuals with mosaicism for the autosomal dominant bone dysplasia osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) are generally identified by having more than one affected child. The mosaic carriers have both normal and mutant cell populations in somatic and germline tissues but are unaffected or minimally affected by the type I collagen mutation that manifests clinically in their heterozygous offspring. We determined the proportion of mutant osteoblasts in skeletal tissue of two mosaic carriers who each have a COL1A1 mutation in a high proportion of dermal fibroblasts. Both carriers had normal height and bone histology; the first carrier had normal lumbar spine measurements (L1-L4), as determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (Z = +1.17). In cultured cells from the first carrier, studied by labeled PCR and single-cell PCR over successive passages, the collagen mutation was present in 85% of fibroblasts and 50% and 75% of osteoblasts from her right iliac crest and left patella, respectively, with minimal selection. The second carrier was studied by PCR amplification of DNA from autopsy paraffin blocks. The proportion of heterozygous cells was 40% in calvarium, 65% in tracheal ring, and 70% in aorta. Thus, in OI, substantially normal skeletal growth, density, and histology are compatible with a 40%-75% burden of osteoblasts heterozygous for a COL1A1 mutation. These data are encouraging for mesenchymal stem-cell transplantation, since mosaic carriers are a naturally occurring model for cell therapy.

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