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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Oncotarget.

Volume 7, Issue 11, 15 March 2016, Pages 12000-12009.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.7455

Copyright © 2016 The Authors


Generalized arterial calcification of infancy (GACI), an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the ENPP1 gene, manifests with extensive mineralization of the cardiovascular system. A spontaneous asj-2J mutant mouse has been characterized as a model for GACI. Previous studies focused on phenotypic characterization of skin and vascular tissues. This study further examined the ectopic mineralization phenotype of cartilage, collagen-rich tendons and ligaments in this mouse model. The mice were placed on either control diet or the "acceleration diet" for up to 12 weeks of age. Soft connective tissues, such as ear (elastic cartilage) and trachea (hyaline cartilage), were processed for standard histology. Assessment of ectopic mineralization in articular cartilage and fibrocartilage as well as tendons and ligaments which are attached to long bones were performed using a novel cryo-histological method without decalcification. These analyses demonstrated ectopic mineralization in cartilages as well as tendons and ligaments in the homozygous asj-2J mice at 12 weeks of age, with the presence of immature osteophytes displaying alkaline phosphatase and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase activities as early as at 6 weeks of age. Alkaline phosphatase activity was significantly increased in asj-2J mouse serum as compared to wild type mice, indicating increased bone formation rate in these mice. Together, these data highlight the key role of ENPP1 in regulating calcification of both soft and skeletal tissues.

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