Twisted gastrulation and chordin inhibit differentiation and mineralization in MC3T3-E1 osteoblast-like cells

Anna Petryk, Osamu Shimmi, Xiaohong Jia, Ann E. Carlson, Leah Tervonen, Michael P. Jarcho, Michael B O'Connor, Rajaram Gopalakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are potent inducers of osteoblast differentiation. The accessibility of BMP ligands for binding to their receptors is regulated by secreted proteins Twisted gastrulation (Tsg) and Chordin (Chd). Tsg antagonizes BMP signaling by forming ternary complexes with Chd and BMPs, thereby preventing BMPs from binding to their receptors. In addition to the anti-BMP function, Tsg also has pro-BMP activity, partly mediated by cleavage and degradation of Chd, which releases BMPs from ternary complexes. The roles of Tsg and Chd in osteoblast differentiation are not known. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated the effect of exogenous Tsg and Chd on osteoblast differentiation and mineralization using a well-characterized subclone of MC3T3-E1 osteoblast-like cells. Our results show that Tsg and Chd are expressed in MC3T3-E1 osteoblast-like cells. While Tsg mRNA levels decrease during osteoblast differentiation, Chd levels are found to increase. Tsg and Chd proteins accumulate in the cell culture media as the osteoblasts differentiate. Exogenous Tsg and Chd inhibit osteoblast differentiation and mineralization. Osteocalcin (OCN) mRNA levels decrease following both Tsg and Chd treatment. Tsg and Chd also inhibit alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity in a dose-dependent manner. To provide insight into the mechanism of Tsg and Chd action, we investigated the effect of Tsg and Chd on BMP activity by determining phosphorylated Smad1 (pSmad1) levels. We show that both Tsg and Chd can independently and in combination reduce pSmad1 levels in MC3T3-E1 cells treated with BMP4. Further, BMP2 partially reverses the inhibitory effect of Tsg and Chd on ALP activity. Taken together, these results suggest that Tsg and Chd are involved in osteoblast differentiation and mineralization by regulating BMP signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-626
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by NIH grant K08-HD043138 to A.P. and University of Minnesota Academic Health Center Seed Grant to R.G (#03–14). M.B.O is an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The authors also wish to thank Thuy Thong and John Zehms at R&D Systems for assistance with ELISA assay.


  • Bone morphogenetic protein
  • Chordin
  • Differentiation
  • MC3T3-E1
  • Mineralization
  • Osteoblast
  • Twisted gastrulation


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