During enchondral ossification, mesenchymal cells express genes regulating the intracellular biosynthesis of cholesterol and lipids. Here, we have investigated conditional deletion of Scap or of Insig1 and Insig2 (Scap inhibits intracellular biosynthesis and Insig proteins activate intracellular biosynthesis). Mesenchymal condensation and chondrogenesis was disrupted in mice lacking Scap in mesenchymal progenitors, whereas mice lacking the Insig genes in mesenchymal progenitors had short limbs, but normal chondrogenesis. Mice lacking Scap in chondrocytes showed severe dwarfism, with ectopic hypertrophic cells, whereas deletion of Insig genes in chondrocytes caused a mild dwarfism and shortening of the hypertrophic zone. In vitro studies showed that intracellular cholesterol in chondrocytes can derive from exogenous and endogenous sources, but that exogenous sources cannot completely overcome the phenotypic effect of Scap deficiency. Genes encoding cholesterol biosynthetic proteins are regulated by Hedgehog (Hh) signaling, and Hh signaling is also regulated by intracellular cholesterol in chondrocytes, suggesting a feedback loop in chondrocyte differentiation. Precise regulation of intracellular biosynthesis is required for chondrocyte homeostasis and long bone growth, and these data support pharmacological modulation of cholesterol biosynthesis as a therapy for select cartilage pathologies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology