Activin-a induces early differential gene expression exclusively in periodontal ligament fibroblasts from fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva patients

Ton Schoenmaker*, Michal Mokry, Dimitra Micha, Coen Netelenbos, Nathalie Bravenboer, Marjolein Gilijamse, E. Marelise W. Eekhoff, Teun J. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) is a rare genetic disease characterized by heterotopic ossification (HO). It is caused by mutations in the Activin receptor type 1 (ACVR1) gene, resulting in enhanced responsiveness to ligands, specifically to Activin-A. Though it has been shown that capturing Activin-A protects against heterotopic ossification in animal models, the exact underlying mechanisms at the gene expression level causing ACVR1 R206H-mediated ossifications and progression are thus far unknown. We investigated the early transcriptomic changes induced by Activin-A of healthy control and patient-derived periodontal ligament fibroblasts (PLF) isolated from extracted teeth by RNA sequencing analysis. To study early differences in response to Activin-A, periodontal ligament fibroblasts from six control teeth and from six FOP patient teeth were cultured for 24 h without and with 50 ng/mL Activin-A and analyzed with RNA sequencing. Pathway analysis on genes upregulated by Activin-A in FOP cells showed an association with pathways involved in, among others, Activin, TGFβ, and BMP signaling. Differential gene expression induced by Activin-A was exclusively seen in the FOP cells. Median centered supervised gene expression analysis showed distinct clusters of up- and downregulated genes in the FOP cultures after stimulation with Activin-A. The upregulated genes with high fold changes like SHOC2, TTC1, PAPSS2, DOCK7, and LOX are all associated with bone metabolism. Our open-ended approach to investigating the early effect of Activin-A on gene expression in control and FOP PLF shows that the molecule exclusively induces differential gene expression in FOP cells and not in control cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number629
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

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