Regulation of chondrocyte terminal differentiation in the postembryonic growth plate: the role of the PTHrP-Indian hedgehog axis

C Farquharson, D Jefferies, E Seawright, B Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chondrocyte differentiation during embryonic bone growth is controlled by interactions between PTHrP and Indian hedgehog. We have now determined that the major components of this signaling pathway are present in the postembryonic growth plate. PTHrP was immunolocalized throughout the growth plate, and semiquantitative RT-PCR analysis of maturationally distinct chondrocyte fractions indicated that PTHrP, Indian hedgehog, and the PTH/PTHrP receptor were expressed at similar levels throughout the growth plate. However, patched, the hedgehog receptor, was more highly expressed in proliferating chondrocytes. Although all fractionated cells responded to PTHrP in culture by increasing thymidine incorporation and cAMP production and decreasing alkaline phosphatase activity, the magnitude of response was greatest in the proliferative chondrocytes. Bone morphogenetic proteins are considered likely intermediates in PTHrP signaling. Expression of bone morphogenetic protein-2 and 4--7 was detected within the growth plate, and PTHrP inhibited the expression of bone morphogenetic protein-4 and 6. Although organ culture studies indicated a possible paracrine role for epiphyseal chondrocyte-derived PTHrP in regulating growth plate chondrocyte differentiation, the presence within the postembryonic growth plate of functional components of the PTHrP-Indian hedgehog pathway suggests that local mechanisms intrinsic to the growth plate exist to control the rate of endochondral ossification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4131-40
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2001


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chickens
  • Chondrocytes
  • Culture Techniques
  • Gene Expression
  • Growth Plate
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Parathyroid Hormone-Related Protein
  • Proteins
  • Trans-Activators


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