The changing integrin expression and a role for integrin β8 in the chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells.
LaPointe VLS., Verpoorte A., Stevens MM.
Many cartilage tissue engineering approaches aim to differentiate human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) into chondrocytes and develop cartilage in vitro by targeting cell-matrix interactions. We sought to better inform the design of cartilage tissue engineering scaffolds by understanding how integrin expression changes during chondrogenic differentiation. In three models of in vitro chondrogenesis, we studied the temporal change of cartilage phenotype markers and integrin subunits during the differentiation of hMSCs. We found that transcript expression of most subunits was conserved across the chondrogenesis models, but was significantly affected by the time-course of differentiation. In particular, ITGB8 was up-regulated and its importance in chondrogenesis was further established by a knockdown of integrin β8, which resulted in a non-hyaline cartilage phenotype, with no COL2A1 expression detected. In conclusion, we performed a systematic study of the temporal changes of integrin expression during chondrogenic differentiation in multiple chondrogenesis models, and revealed a role for integrin β8 in chondrogenesis. This work enhances our understanding of the changing adhesion requirements of hMSCs during chondrogenic differentiation and underlines the importance of integrins in establishing a cartilage phenotype.