Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

The type I BMP receptor ACVR1/ALK2 is required for chondrogenesis during development.

PMID 25413979


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are crucial regulators of chondrogenesis. BMPs transduce their signals through three type I receptors: BMPR1A, BMPR1B, and ACVR1/ALK2. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare disorder characterized by progressive ossification of connective tissue, is caused by an activating mutation in Acvr1 (the gene that encodes ACVR1/ALK2). However, there are few developmental defects associated with FOP. Thus, the role of ACVR1 in chondrogenesis during development is unknown. Here we report the phenotype of mice lacking ACVR1 in cartilage. Acvr1(CKO) mice are viable but exhibit defects in the development of cranial and axial structures. Mutants exhibit a shortened cranial base, and cervical vertebrae are hypoplastic. Acvr1(CKO) adult mice develop progressive kyphosis. These morphological defects were associated with decreased levels of Smad1/5 and p38 activation, and with reduced rates of chondrocyte proliferation in vertebral cartilage. We also tested whether ACVR1 exerts coordinated functions with BMPR1A and BMPR1B through analysis of double mutants. Acvr1/Bmpr1a and Acvr1/Bmpr1b mutant mice exhibited generalized perinatal lethal chondrodysplasia that was much more severe than in any of the corresponding mutant strains. These findings demonstrate that ACVR1 is required for chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation, particularly in craniofacial and axial elements, but exerts coordinated functions with both BMPR1A and BMPR1B throughout the developing endochondral skeleton.