University of Southern California

McMahon Lab

USC Stem Cell

Hironori Hojo and colleagues illuminate bone formation and vertebrate evolution

Rendition of developing vertebrate bones. In their study, Hojo and colleagues address the transcriptional action and evolution of Sp7/Osx, a key determinant of vertebrate-restricted bone forming osteoblasts. (Painting by Kristen Chen; courtesy of Developmental Cell 2016)

Rendition of developing vertebrate bones. In their study, Hojo and colleagues address the transcriptional action and evolution of Sp7/Osx, a key determinant of vertebrate-restricted bone forming osteoblasts. (Painting by Kristen Chen; courtesy of Developmental Cell 2016)

With the emergence of bone, the diversity of life expanded to encompass the bone-forming vertebrates, a group of species ranging from the tiny frog Paedophryne amauensis to the mighty blue whale. Bone formation in vertebrates is linked to a shared gene, called Sp7 or Osterix, that acts early in establishing the bone-forming cells or osteoblasts.

In a new study in Developmental Cell, Hironori Hojo from the USC Stem Cell laboratory of Andrew McMahon and colleagues reveal how Sp7 directs the development of bone-secreting osteoblasts to fashion the skeleton.

“This is a wonderful example of how a narrow focus on the workings of a single gene illuminates bigger questions on the evolution of a skeletal scaffold we mammals share with fish, frogs, lizard and birds,” said Andrew McMahon, senior author and W.M. Keck Provost Professor and chair of the Department of Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

To read more, visit stemcell.usc.edu/2016/04/28/usc-stem-cell-study-illuminates-bone-formation-and-vertebrate-evolution.

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