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Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(1):37-47. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.37

Research Paper

Activation of the FGF signaling pathway and subsequent induction of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation by inorganic polyphosphate

Yumi Kawazoe1,2, Shinichi Katoh1, Yuichiro Onodera2, Takao Kohgo2, Masanobu Shindoh2, Toshikazu Shiba1

1. Regenetiss Inc., 1-9-4, Asahigaoka, Hino, Tokyo 191-0065, Japan.
2. Graduate School of Dental Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-8586, Japan.


Inorganic polyphosphate [poly(P)] is a biopolymer existing in almost all cells and tissues, although its biological functions in higher eukaryotes have not been completely elucidated. We previously demonstrated that poly(P) enhances the function of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) by stabilizing them and strengthening the affinity between FGFs and their cell surface receptors. Since FGFs play crucial roles in bone regeneration, we further investigated the effect of poly(P) on the cell differentiation of human stem cells via FGF signaling systems. Human dental pulp cells (HDPCs) isolated from human dental pulp show the characteristics of multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). HDPCs secreted FGFs and the proliferation of HDPCs was shown to be enhanced by treatment with poly(P). Cell surface receptor-bound FGF-2 was stably maintained for more than 40 hours in the presence of poly(P). The phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was also enhanced by poly(P). The effect of poly(P) on the osteogenic differentiation of HDPCs and human MSCs (hMSCs) were also investigated. After 5 days of treatment with poly(P), type-I collagen expression of both cell types was enhanced. The C-terminal peptide of type-I collagen was also released at higher levels in poly(P)-treated HDPCs. Microarray analysis showed that expression of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP1), osteopontin (OPN), osteocalcin (OC) and osteoprotegerin was induced in both cell types by poly(P). Furthermore, induced expression of MMP1, OPN and OC genes in both cells was confirmed by real-time PCR. Calcification of both cell types was clearly observed by alizarin red staining following treatment with poly(P). The results suggest that the activation of the FGF signaling pathway by poly(P) induces both proliferation and mineralization of stem cells.

Keywords: inorganic polyphosphate, FGF, osteogenic differentiation, cell calcification, mesenchymal stem cell, dental pulp cell

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How to cite this article:
Kawazoe Y, Katoh S, Onodera Y, Kohgo T, Shindoh M, Shiba T. Activation of the FGF signaling pathway and subsequent induction of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation by inorganic polyphosphate. Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(1):37-47. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.37. Available from