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Tenomodulin regulates matrix remodeling of mouse tendon stem/progenitor cells in an ex vivo collagen I gel model

Yin, Heyong, Caceres, Manuel Delgado, Yan, Zexing, Schieker, Matthias, Nerlich, Michael, Docheva, Denitsa
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2019 v.512 no.4 pp. 691-697
collagen, crosslinking, extracellular matrix, gels, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, genotype, ligaments, mice, models, phenotype, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, stem cells, survival rate, tendons, transcription factors
Tenomodulin (Tnmd) is predominantly expressed in tendon and ligament tissues. Loss of Tnmd in mice leads to a profound phenotype in vitro, characterized by reduced self-renewal but increased senescence of mouse tendon stem/progenitor cells (mTSPCs), as well as in vivo, by significantly impaired early tendon healing. Interestingly, injuried Achilles tendons from Tnmd-deficient mice showed inferior tendon repair, which was characterized by less contracted fibrovascular scars with disorganized matrix composition in comparison to wild type (WT) mice at day 8 after injury. To better understand Tnmd role in tendon repair, here we implemented an ex vivo three-dimensional (3D) collagen gel model and investigated whether Tnmd knockout affects the collagen contraction of mTSPCs. TSPCs were isolated from WT and Tnmd knockout (KO) tendons at 6, 9, 12, and 18 months of age. Adhesion assay demonstrated that loss of Tnmd in mTSPCs resulted in reduced adhesion to collagen type I. Quantitative time-dependent analysis revealed that Tnmd-deficient mTSPCs of all ages have significantly reduced capacity to contract collagen matrix in comparison to WT cells. Furthermore, 18 months old mTSPCs of both genotypes showed lower collagen contractility than cells obtained from 6, 9, and 12 months old animals, demonstrating an overall effect of organismal aging on matrix remodeling. Nevertheless, both cell types had a similar survival rate for the 5 days of cultivation within the gels. Lastly, quantitative PCR for 48 different genes revealed that the knockout of Tnmd majorly affected the gene expression profile of mTSPCs, as several transcription factors, tendon matrix, collagen cross-linking, and lineage maker genes were down-regulated. Taken together, our results clearly demonstrated that loss of Tnmd in mTSPCs led to profoundly altered gene expression profile, insufficient adhesion to collagen type I, and impaired ability to contract the extracellular matrix.