Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling is critical in skeletal development. Overactivation can trigger heterotopic ossification (HO) as in fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare, progressive disease of massive HO formation. A small subset of FOP patients harboring the causative ACVR1R206H mutation show strikingly mild or delayed-onset HO, suggesting that genetic variants in the BMP pathway could act as disease modifiers. Whole-exome sequencing of one such patient identified BMPR1AR443C and ACVR2AV173I as candidate modifiers. Molecular modeling predicted significant structural perturbations. Neither variant decreased BMP signaling in ACVR1R206H HEK 293T cells at baseline or after stimulation with BMP4 or activin A (AA), ligands that activate ACVR1R206H signaling. Overexpression of BMPR1AR443C in a Tg(ACVR1-R206Ha) embryonic zebrafish model, in which overactive BMP signaling yields ventralized embryos, did not alter ventralization severity, while ACVR2AV173I exacerbated ventralization. Co-expression of both variants did not affect dorsoventral patterning. In contrast, BMPR1A knockdown in ACVR1R206H HEK cells decreased ligand-stimulated BMP signaling but did not affect dorsoventral patterning in Tg(ACVR1-R206Ha) zebrafish. ACVR2A knockdown decreased only AA-stimulated signaling in ACVR1R206H HEK cells and had no effect in Tg(ACVR1-R206Ha) zebrafish. Co-knockdown in ACVR1R206H HEK cells decreased basal and ligand-stimulated signaling, and co-knockdown/knockout (bmpr1aa/ab; acvr2aa/ab) decreased Tg(ACVR1-R206Ha) zebrafish ventralization phenotypes. Our functional studies showed that knockdown of wild-type BMPR1A and ACVR2A could attenuate ACVR1R206H signaling, particularly in response to AA, and that ACVR2AV173I unexpectedly increased ACVR1R206H-mediated signaling in zebrafish. These studies describe a useful strategy and platform for functionally interrogating potential genes and genetic variants that may impact the BMP signaling pathway.
- DEVELOPMENTAL MODELING
- FIBRODYSPLASIA OSSIFICANS PROGRESSIVA
- GENETIC ANIMAL MODELS
- PRECLINICAL STUDIES
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine