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Lentiviral-Mediated RNAi Knockdown of Cbfa1 Gene Inhibits Endochondral Ossification of Antler Stem Cells in Micromass Culture
Published: Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Author: Hongmei Sun et al.

by Hongmei Sun, Fuhe Yang, Wenhui Chu, Haiping Zhao, Chris McMahon, Chunyi Li

Articular cartilage (AC) lacks ability to repair defects due to its avascular nature as healing process relies on cells being brought in by blood vessels. Multiple approaches have been taken to facilitate cartilage repair in clinics, to date there is no effective treatment available that can restores the AC lesion to a normally functioning level over extended periods. In this regard, antler cartilage is unique in being richly vascularised and hence can effectively repair and regenerate. Interestingly, antler stem cells, from which the vascularised cartilage is derived, can form avascular cartilage when taken away from their original niche, suggesting that the vascular or avascular state of antler cartilage is controlled by extrinsic factors. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this phenotype switch may help us to devise a way to trigger the effective intrinsic repair of AC. However, adoption of antler cartilage model for AC repair requires the demonstration that the cartilage specific signalling pathways also prevail in antler chondrogenesis. To achieve this, in the present study we silenced expression of Cbfa1, a key factor regulatingendochondral ossification, using RNAi, and showed that expression of the downstream genes type I collagen and osteocalcin were suppressed which, in turn, inhibited endochondral ossification process taking place in the antler stem cell-formed nodules. Therefore, we provided further evidence at molecular level that antler could be developed as novel model for the study of AC repair. The eventual identification of the extrinsic factors dictating the phenotype switch between the vascular and avascular state of antler cartilage will open up a new avenue for the cure of osteoarthritis.