Extracellular matrix and osmolarity influence the development and homeostasis of skeletal tissues through Rho GTPase–mediated alteration of the actin cytoskeleton. This study investigated whether the actin-branching Arp2/3 complex, a downstream effector of the Rho GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1, plays a critical role in maintaining the health of matrix-rich and osmotically loaded intervertebral discs and cartilage. Mice with constitutive intervertebral disc– and cartilage-specific deletion of the critical Arp2/3 subunit Arpc2 (Col2-Cre; Arpc2fl/fl) developed chondrodysplasia and spinal defects. Since these mice did not survive to adulthood, we generated mice with inducible Arpc2 deletion in disc and cartilage (Acan-CreERT2; Arpc2fl/fl). Inactivation of Arp2/3 at skeletal maturity resulted in growth plate closure, loss of proteoglycan content in articular cartilage, and degenerative changes in the intervertebral disc at 1 year of age. Chondrocytes with Arpc2 deletion showed compromised cell spreading on both collagen and fibronectin. Pharmacological inhibition of Cdc42 and Arp2/3 prevented the osmoadaptive transcription factor TonEBP/NFAT5 from recruiting cofactors in response to a hyperosmolarity challenge. Together, these findings suggest that Arp2/3 plays a critical role in cartilaginous tissues through the regulation of cell–extracellular matrix interactions and modulation of TonEBP-mediated osmoadaptation.
Steven Tessier, Alexandra C. Doolittle, Kimheak Sao, Jeremy D. Rotty, James E. Bear, Veronica Ulici, Richard F. Loeser, Irving M. Shapiro, Brian O. Diekman, Makarand V. Risbud
Constitutive inactivation of Arp2/3 in disc and cartilage causes severe defects.