Tendons shape bones during embryonic development

Dec 14, 2009

In all vertebrates, including humans, bones, muscles and tendons work together to give the skeleton its characteristic balance of stability and movement. Now, new research uncovers a previously unrecognized interaction between tendons, which connect muscles to bones, and the developing embryonic skeleton. This study, published by Cell Press in the December 15th issue of the journal Developmental Cell, demonstrates that tendons drive the development of specific bone features that are needed for a strong skeletal system.

"Our skeleton with its bones, joints, and attachments serves us so well in our daily lives that we hardly pay attention to this extraordinary system," says senior study author, Dr. Elazar Zelzer from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. "Although previous research has uncovered mechanisms that contribute to the development and growth of each issue composing this complex and wonderfully adaptable organ system, specific interactions between bones, muscles and tendons that drive the ordered assembly of the musculoskeletal system are not fully understood."

Dr. Zelzer and colleagues were interested in uncovering how "bone ridges" form. Bone ridges are knobby, thickened areas of bone that can be found wherever tendons are attached. These reinforced sections of bone are important anchoring points for connecting bones to muscles, and strong attachment at these sites enables the skeleton to cope with mechanical stresses exerted by the muscles.

While studying mouse embryos, the researchers discovered that tendons control the formation their own bone ridges through a two-stage process. First, tendons initiate outgrowth of the bone ridge by secreting a protein (BMP4) that promotes bone formation. Then, during the second stage, helps to promote further bone growth and set the final size of the bone ridge.

Taken together, the results demonstrate that tendons are needed for ridge patterning. "These findings provide a new perspective on the regulation of skeletogenesis in the context of the musculoskeletal system and shed light on a specific mechanism that underlies the assembly of this system," concludes Dr. Zelzer.

Source: Cell Press (news : web)

Explore further: Earliest stages of ear development involve a localized signaling cascade

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Notch controls bone formation and strength

Feb 24, 2008

Notch, a protein known to govern the determination of cell differentiation into different kinds of tissues in embryos, plays a critical role in bone formation and strength later in life, said researchers from Baylor College ...

Engineers create bone that blends into tendons

Aug 29, 2008

Engineers at Georgia Tech have used skin cells to create artificial bones that mimic the ability of natural bone to blend into other tissues such as tendons or ligaments. The artificial bones display a gradual ...

Crucial hormonal pathway to bone building uncovered

Nov 01, 2008

Scientists have discovered a crucial step in hormone-triggered bone growth, a finding that could lead to new osteoporosis drugs and better bone-building therapies, according to a new study.

How embryo movement stimulates joint formation

May 18, 2009

A new study uncovers a molecular mechanism that explains why joints fail to develop in embryos with paralyzed limbs. The research, published by Cell Press in the May issue of the journal Developmental Cell, answers a long ...

Recommended for you

Genomes of malaria-carrying mosquitoes sequenced

21 hours ago

Nora Besansky, O'Hara Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the University's Eck Institute for Global Health, has led an international team of scientists in sequencing ...

How calcium regulates mitochondrial carrier proteins

Nov 26, 2014

Mitochondrial carriers are a family of proteins that play the key role of transporting a chemically diverse range of molecules across the inner mitochondrial membrane. Mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carriers are part of ...

Team conducts unprecedented analysis of microbial ecosystem

Nov 26, 2014

An international team of scientists from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and The Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) have completed a first-of-its-kind microbial analysis of a biological ...

Students create microbe to weaken superbug

Nov 25, 2014

A team of undergraduate students from the University of Waterloo have designed a synthetic organism that may one day help doctors treat MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant superbug.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.