Background: The maturation of chondrocytes is essential for endochondral bone formation. The Indian Hedgehog (Ihh) gene is expressed in prehypertropic chondrocytes and has been proposed to regulate chondrocyte maturation. While such secretary factors as PTHrP and BMP are thought to be involved in Ihh expression, the mechanism of the restricted expression of Ihh is not clear. Results: Using primary chondrocytes, we have developed here a modified micromass culture (MM-C) system that allows the formation of concentration gradients of secreted factors, expressed either endogenously or retrovirally, from each of plural micromass cultures on a single plate. Using this system, we determined that chondrocytes create the inhibitory micro-environment, partly dependent on PTHrP secretion, for the Ihh expression. We also showed that retrovirally induced BMP-2 induces the expression of both Ihh and Noggin (encoding the BMP-inactivating protein), and we further present evidence that a negative-feedback loop involving Noggin might account for the precise localization of BMP signalling for Ihh induction. Conclusion: These results suggest that the expression of the Ihh gene in cartilage is regulated by several mechanisms that include the secretion of inhibitory factors (including PTHrP) and the negative-feed back loop formed by BMPs and Noggin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology