Tenascin in bone morphogenesis: Expression by osteoblasts and cell type-specific expression of splice variants

Eleanor J. Mackie, Richard P Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The extracellular matrix glycoprotein, tenascin, is associated in vivo with mesenchyme undergoing osteogenesis and chondrogenesis, but is absent from mature bone and cartilage matrix. The expression of tenascin by osteoblastic cells in vitro has been investigated by immunoblotting and immunocytochemistry. Tenascin was secreted into the medium and deposited in the matrix by human and rat osteoblast-like cell lines, as well as by primary osteoblast-enriched cultures from chick embryo calvarial bones. In primary osteoblastenriched cultures, extracellular tenascin was found only in cell aggregates expressing the osteoblast marker alkaline phosphatase. Chicken osteoblast cultures synthesized almost exclusively the largest tenascin subunit, whereas fibroblast cultures from periostea of chicken calvariae synthesized approximately equal amounts of all three subunits. In situ hybridization studies of developing chicken bones, using a cDNA probe that hybridizes to all chicken tenascin splice variants, showed specific labelling of both osteogenic and chondrogenic regions of developing endochondral bones. In contrast, a cDNA probe specific for the large tenascin splice variant showed specific hybridization in osteogenic but not chondrogenic regions. Within osteogenic regions, tenascin mRNA was expressed by osteoblasts. A comparison of in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical studies demonstrated that tenascin mRNA and protein were codistributed in osteogenic regions of endochondral and membrane bones, whereas protein was retained in regions of differentiating cartilage where mRNA was no longer detectable. The results presented here demonstrate that tenascin is synthesized by osteoblasts. Moreover, within developing bones, there are at least three different cell type-specific patterns of expression of tenascin splice variants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-771
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Chondrogenesis
  • Cytotactin
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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