Shell-less chick embryo
Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Maintenance of chick embryos in long-term culture without their calcareous eggshell is a useful method for studying the relationship between calcium homeostasis and cell differentiation during skeletogenesis. Previously, we have shown that in shell-less (SL) embryos, calcium deficiency induces a cartilage-like phenotype in osteogenic tissues, such as calvaria (Jacenko and Tuan  Dev. Biol. 115:215). In this investigation, we have studied the relationship between cartilage calcification and hypertrophy, and the expression of type X collagen, a specific product of hypertrophic chondrocytes. For this study, the cephalic (calcifying) and caudal (permanently cartilaginous) regions of sterna from day 18 and day 20 normal (NL) and SL embryos were metabolically labeled with [14C]-proline. Analysis of the biosynthetic products revealed significant differences in type X collagen expression in the cephalic region of sternal cartilage. In NL tissues, type X collagen production increased from 13.1% of total collagen at day 18 to 43.7% at day 20. In contrast, in SL embryos, type X collagen was not detectable until day 20, when it represented only 1% of total collagen. Comparison of the NL and SL embryos with respect to their serum calcium level and sternal calcium content and histology revealed a direct relationship between low systemic calcium and limited cartilage hypertrophy, undermineralization, and decreased type X collagen production in the sternal cephalic cartilage. Supplementation of CaCO3 to SL embryos increased their serum and sternal calcium, and restored cartilage hypertrophy, mineralization, and type X collagen synthesis in the cephalic portion of the sterna. These findings confirm that a critical relationship exists between calcium homeostasis, chondrocyte hypertrophy, mineralization, and type X collagen synthesis in the cephalic region of sternal cartilage. These results further demonstrate the importance of calcium in the morphogenetic events of endochondral ossification, in particular the transition from hyaline cartilage to hypertrophic cartilage, and eventually to bone. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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