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Suppressing UPR-dependent overactivation of FGFR3 signaling ameliorates SLC26A2-deficient chondrodysplasias.

EBioMedicine (2019-01-28)
Chao Zheng, Xisheng Lin, Xiaolong Xu, Cheng Wang, Jinru Zhou, Bo Gao, Jing Fan, Weiguang Lu, Yaqian Hu, Qiang Jie, Zhuojing Luo, Liu Yang

Mutations in the SLC26A2 gene cause a spectrum of currently incurable human chondrodysplasias. However, genotype-phenotype relationships of SLC26A2-deficient chondrodysplasias are still perplexing and thus stunt therapeutic development. To investigate the causative role of SLC26A2 deficiency in chondrodysplasias and confirm its skeleton-specific pathology, we generated and analyzed slc26a2-/- and Col2a1-Cre; slc26a2fl/fl mice. The therapeutic effect of NVP-BGJ398, an FGFR inhibitor, was tested with both explant cultures and timed pregnant females. Two lethal forms of human SLC26A2-related chondrodysplasias, achondrogenesis type IB (ACG1B) and atelosteogenesis type II (AO2), are phenocopied by slc26a2-/- mice. Unexpectedly, slc26a2-/- chondrocytes are defective for collagen secretion, exhibiting intracellular retention and compromised extracellular deposition of ColII and ColIX. As a consequence, the ATF6 arm of the unfolded protein response (UPR) is preferentially triggered to overactivate FGFR3 signaling by inducing excessive FGFR3 in slc26a2-/- chondrocytes. Consistently, suppressing FGFR3 signaling by blocking either FGFR3 or phosphorylation of the downstream effector favors the recovery of slc26a2-/- cartilage cultures from impaired growth and unbalanced cell proliferation and apoptosis. Moreover, administration of an FGFR inhibitor to pregnant females shows therapeutic effects on pathological features in slc26a2-/- newborns. Finally, we confirm the skeleton-specific lethality and pathology of global SLC26A2 deletion through analyzing the Col2a1-Cre; slc26a2fl/fl mouse line. Our study unveils a previously unrecognized pathogenic mechanism underlying ACG1B and AO2, and supports suppression of FGFR3 signaling as a promising therapeutic approach for SLC26A2-related chondrodysplasias. FUND: This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81871743, 81730065 and 81772377).