Background: Signals from the extracellular environment control many aspects of cell behaviour including proliferation, survival, differentiation, adhesion and migration. It is increasingly evident that these signals can be modulated by a group of matricellular proteins called the CCN family. CCN proteins have multiple domains through which they regulate the activities of a variety of signalling molecules including TGF beta, BMPs and integrins, thereby influencing a wide range of processes in development and disease. Whilst the developmental roles of CCN1 and CCN2 have been elucidated, very little is known about the function of CCN3 ( NOV). To investigate this, we have generated mice carrying a targeted mutation in the Nov gene (Nov(del3)) which reveal for the first time its diverse functions in embryos and adults.
Results: By replacing Nov exon 3 with a TKneomycin cassette, we have generated Nov(del3-/-) mice which produce no full length NOV protein and express at a barely detectable level a mutant NOV protein that lacks the VWC domain. In Nov(del3)-/- embryos, and to a lesser extent in Nov(del3)+/- embryos, development of the appendicular and axial skeleton was affected with enlarged vertebrae, elongated long bones and digits, delayed ossification, increased bone mineralization and severe joint malformations. Primary embryo fibroblasts from Nov(del3)-/- mutant embryos showed enhanced chondrogenesis and osteogenesis. Cardiac development was also influenced leading to enlargement and abnormal modelling of the endocardial cushions, associated with septal defects and delayed fusion. In adults, cardiomyopathy was apparent, with hypertrophy and calcification of the septum and left ventricle dilation. Muscle atrophy was seen by 5 months of age, associated with transdifferentiation to fat. Premature tissue degeneration was also seen in the lens, with cataracts present from 6 months.
Conclusion: We have generated the first mice with a mutation in the Nov gene (Nov(del3)). Our data demonstrate that NOV is a regulator of skeletal and cardiac development, and implicates NOV in various disease processes including cardiomyopathy, muscle atrophy and cataract formation. Novdel3 mutants represent a valuable resource for studying NOV's role in the modulation and co-ordination of multiple signalling pathways that underpin organogenesis and tissue homeostasis.
- TISSUE GROWTH-FACTOR
- PROGRESSIVE PSEUDORHEUMATOID DYSPLASIA
- RECEPTOR-RELATED PROTEIN-5
- IMMEDIATE-EARLY GENE
- TWISTED GASTRULATION
- OSTEOBLAST DIFFERENTIATION
- ALVEOLAR RHABDOMYOSARCOMA
- INTEGRIN ALPHA(V)BETA(3)