Cartilage differentiation and the actin cytoskeleton
Cartilage: Volume 1: Physiology and Development
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Chondrogenesis, e.g., the formation of cartilage from precursor cells, is characterized by drastic changes in cell shape and size. This involves major reorganization of the cytoskeleton, in particular the actin network. However, we have known for several decades that the actin cytoskeleton does not merely and passively respond to upstream signals but instead actively controls chondrocyte cell fate and gene expression. Recent years have provided new insights into the regulation of actin organization both during chondrogenesis (in particular through signaling proteins of the Rho GTPase family) and into the downstream mechanisms connecting actin dynamics to chondrocyte gene expression (e.g., through the chondrocyte master transcription factor Sox9). These insights increase our understanding of the fundamental processes controlling skeletal development and are also highly relevant to disturbances of normal chondrocyte function in diseases such as chondrodysplasias and osteoarthritis.