Mechanical loading stimulates chondrogenesis via the PKA/CREB-Sox9 and PP2A pathways in chicken micromass cultures

Tamás Juhász, Csaba Matta, Csilla Somogyi, Éva Katona, Roland Takács, Rudolf Ferenc Soha, István A. Szabó, Csaba Cserháti, Róbert Szody, Zoltán Karácsonyi, Éva Bakó, Pál Gergely, Róza Zákány

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Biomechanical stimuli play important roles in the formation of articular cartilage during early foetal life, and optimal mechanical load is a crucial regulatory factor of adult chondrocyte metabolism and function. In this study, we undertook to analyse mechanotransduction pathways during in vitro chondrogenesis. Chondroprogenitor cells isolated from limb buds of 4-day-old chicken embryos were cultivated as high density cell cultures for 6. days. Mechanical stimulation was carried out by a self-designed bioreactor that exerted uniaxial intermittent cyclic load transmitted by the culture medium as hydrostatic pressure and fluid shear to differentiating cells. The loading scheme (0.05. Hz, 600. Pa; for 30. min) was applied on culturing days 2 and 3, when final commitment and differentiation of chondroprogenitor cells occurred in this model. The applied mechanical load significantly augmented cartilage matrix production and elevated mRNA expression of several cartilage matrix constituents, including collagen type II and aggrecan core protein, as well as matrix-producing hyaluronan synthases through enhanced expression, phosphorylation and nuclear signals of the main chondrogenic transcription factor Sox9. Along with increased cAMP levels, a significantly enhanced protein kinase A (PKA) activity was also detected and CREB, the archetypal downstream transcription factor of PKA signalling, exhibited elevated phosphorylation levels and stronger nuclear signals in response to mechanical stimuli. All the above effects were diminished by the PKA-inhibitor H89. Inhibition of the PKA-independent cAMP-mediators Epac1 and Epac2 with HJC0197 resulted in enhanced cartilage formation, which was additive to that of the mechanical stimulation, implying that the chondrogenesis-promoting effect of mechanical load was independent of Epac. At the same time, PP2A activity was reduced following mechanical load and treatments with the PP2A-inhibitor okadaic acid were able to mimic the effects of the intervention. Our results indicate that proper mechanical stimuli augment in vitro cartilage formation via promoting both differentiation and matrix production of chondrogenic cells, and the opposing regulation of the PKA/CREB-Sox9 and the PP2A signalling pathways is crucial in this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-482
Number of pages15
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Chondrocyte differentiation
  • Epac
  • Extracellular matrix
  • H89
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Okadaic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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    Juhász, T., Matta, C., Somogyi, C., Katona, É., Takács, R., Soha, R. F., Szabó, I. A., Cserháti, C., Szody, R., Karácsonyi, Z., Bakó, É., Gergely, P., & Zákány, R. (2014). Mechanical loading stimulates chondrogenesis via the PKA/CREB-Sox9 and PP2A pathways in chicken micromass cultures. Cellular Signalling, 26(3), 468-482.