Int J Biol Sci 2016; 12(10):1203-1212. doi:10.7150/ijbs.15833

Research Paper

Dmp1 Null Mice Develop a Unique Osteoarthritis-like Phenotype

Qi Zhang1,2*, Shuxian Lin2,3*, Ying Liu2, Baozhi Yuan4, Steph E Harris5, Jian Q. Feng2✉

1. Department of Endondontics, School & Hospital of Stomatology, Tongji University, Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Tooth Restoration and Regeneration, China;
2. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M College of Dentistry, Dallas, TX, USA;
3. Department of Prosthodontics, Ninth People's Hospital affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine, Shanghai, China;
4. School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA;
5. Department of Periodontics, UT Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA.
*Qi Zhang and Shuixan Lin Contributed Equally to This Work.


Patients with hypophosphatemia rickets (including DMP1 mutations) develop severe osteoarthritis (OA), although the mechanism is largely unknown. In this study, we first identified the expression of DMP1 in hypertrophic chondrocytes using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and X-gal analysis of Dmp1-knockout-lacZ-knockin heterozygous mice. Next, we characterized the OA-like phenotype in Dmp1 null mice from 7-week-old to one-year-old using multiple techniques, including X-ray, micro-CT, H&E staining, Goldner staining, scanning electronic microscopy, IHC assays, etc. We found a classical OA-like phenotype in Dmp1 null mice such as articular cartilage degradation, osteophyte formation, and subchondral osteosclerosis. These Dmp1 null mice also developed unique pathological changes, including a biphasic change in their articular cartilage from the initial expansion of hypertrophic chondrocytes at the age of 1-month to a quick diminished articular cartilage layer at the age of 3-months. Further, these null mice displayed severe enlarged knees and poorly formed bone with an expanded osteoid area. To address whether DMP1 plays a direct role in the articular cartilage, we deleted Dmp1 specifically in hypertrophic chondrocytes by crossing the Dmp1-loxP mice with Col X Cre mice. Interestingly, these conditional knockout mice didn't display notable defects in either the articular cartilage or the growth plate. Because of the hypophosphatemia remained in the entire life span of the Dmp1 null mice, we also investigated whether a high phosphate diet would improve the OA-like phenotype. A 8-week treatment of a high phosphate diet significantly rescued the OA-like defect in Dmp1 null mice, supporting the critical role of phosphate homeostasis in maintaining the healthy joint morphology and function. Taken together, this study demonstrates a unique OA-like phenotype in Dmp1 null mice, but a lack of the direct impact of DMP1 on chondrogenesis. Instead, the regulation of phosphate homeostasis by DMP1 via the axis of “FGF23-renal phosphorus reabsorption” is vital for maintaining a healthy joint.

Keywords: Dentin Matrix Protein 1, Osteoarthritis, Cartilage, Chondrocyte, Subchondral Bone.

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How to cite this article:
Zhang Q, Lin S, Liu Y, Yuan B, Harris SE, Feng JQ. Dmp1 Null Mice Develop a Unique Osteoarthritis-like Phenotype. Int J Biol Sci 2016; 12(10):1203-1212. doi:10.7150/ijbs.15833. Available from