TGFβ2-induced tenogenesis impacts cadherin and connexin cell-cell junction proteins in mesenchymal stem cells.


Biological Engineering, 875 Perimeter Dr. MS 0904, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, 83844, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Tenogenic differentiation of stem cells is needed for tendon tissue engineering approaches. A current challenge is the limited information on the cellular-level changes during tenogenic induction. Tendon cells in embryonic and adult tendons possess an array of cell-cell junction proteins that include cadherins and connexins, but how these proteins are impacted by tenogenic differentiation is unknown. Our objective was to explore how tenogenic induction of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) using the transforming growth factor (TGF)β2 impacted protein markers of tendon differentiation and protein levels of N-cadherin, cadherin-11 and connexin-43. MSCs were treated with TGFβ2 for 21 days. At 3 days, TGFβ2-treated MSCs developed a fibroblastic morphology and significantly decreased levels of N-cadherin protein, which were maintained through 21 days. Similar decreases in protein levels were found for cadherin-11. Connexin-43 protein levels significantly increased at 3 days, but then decreased below control levels, though not significantly. Protein levels of scleraxis and tenomodulin were significantly increased at day 14 and 21, respectively. Taken together, our results indicate that TGFβ2 is an inducer of tendon marker proteins (scleraxis and tenomodulin) in MSCs and that tenogenesis alters the protein levels of N-cadherin, cadherin-11 and connexin-43. These findings suggest a role for connexin-43 early in tenogenesis, and show that early-onset and sustained decreases in N-cadherin and cadherin-11 may be novel markers of tenogenesis in MSCs.


Cadherin,Connexin,Stem cells,Tendon,Tenogenesis,Tissue engineering,