Developmental expression and hormonal regulation of the rat matrix Gla protein (MGP) gene in chondrogenesis and osteogenesis

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Calcium-Binding Proteins; Cartilage; Cell Differentiation; Cells, Cultured; Collagen; DNA, Single-Stranded; *Extracellular Matrix Proteins; Gene Expression Regulation; Histones; Male; Osteoblasts; *Osteogenesis; Osteopontin; RNA, Messenger; Rats; Sialoglycoproteins; Vitamin D


Cell Biology


Matrix Gla protein (MGP), a vitamin K dependent protein, has recently been identified in many tissues. However, it is accumulated only in bone and cartilage suggesting that the expression of MGP may be related to the development and/or maintenance of the phenotypic properties of these tissues. We systematically evaluated MGP mRNA expression as a function of bone and cartilage development and also as regulated by vitamin D during growth and cellular differentiation. Three experimental models of cartilage and bone development were employed: an in vivo model for endochondral bone formation, as well as in primary cells of normal diploid rat chondrocyte and osteoblast cultures. MGP was expressed at the highest level during cartilage formation and calcification in vivo during endochondral bone formation. In chondrocyte cultures, MGP mRNA was present throughout the culture period but increased only after 3 weeks concomitantly with type I collagen mRNA. In osteoblast cultures, MGP mRNA was expressed during the proliferative period and exhibited increased expression during the period of matrix development. In contrast to osteocalcin (bone Gla protein), this increase was not dependent on mineralization but was related to the extent of differentiation associated with and potentially induced by extracellular matrix formation. During the proliferative period, type I collagen mRNA peaked and thereafter declined, while type I collagen protein steadily accumulated in the extracellular matrix. Constant MGP levels were maintained in the mineralization period of osteoblast differentiation in vitro which is consistent with the constant levels found during the osteogenic period of the in vivo system. MGP mRNA levels in both osteoblasts and chondrocytes in culture were significantly elevated by 1,25-(OH)2D3 (10(-8) M, 48 h) throughout the time course of cellular growth and differentiation. Interestingly, when MGP mRNA transcripts from vitamin D treated and untreated chondrocytes and osteoblasts were analyzed by high resolution Northern blot analysis, we observed two distinct species of MGP mRNA in the vitamin D treated chondrocyte cultures while all other cultures examined exhibited only a single MGP mRNA transcript. Primer extension analysis indicated a single transcription start site in both osteoblasts and chondrocytes with or without vitamin D treatment, suggesting that the lower molecular weight MGP message in vitamin D treated chondrocytes may be related to a modification in post-transcriptional processing. In conclusion, these results show that the selective accumulation of MGP in bone and cartilage tissues in vitro may be related to the development and/or maintenance of a collagenous matrix as reflected by increases in MGP mRNA during these periods.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

DOI of Published Version



J Cell Biochem. 1991 Aug;46(4):351-65. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of cellular biochemistry

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