Progressive ankylosis gene (ank) regulates osteoblast differentiation

Thorsten Kirsch, Hyon Jong Kim, Jeffrey A. Winkles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The progressive ankylosis gene (ank) is a transmembrane protein that transports intracellular pyrophosphate to the extracellular milieu. Human mutations of ank lead to craniometaphyseal dysplasia, a disease which is characterized by the overgrowth of craniofacial bones and osteopenia in long bones, suggesting that ANK plays a regulatory role in osteoblast differentiation. To determine the role of ANK in osteoblast differentiation, we suppressed ANK expression in the osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cell line using siRNA and determined the expression of osteoblastic marker genes and the transcription factors osterix and runx2. In addition, we determined the osteoblastic differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells isolated from the bone marrow of ank/ank mice, which express a truncated, nonfunctional ANK protein, or wild-type littermates. Suppression of ANK expression in MC3T3-E1 cells led to a decrease in bone marker gene expression, including alkaline phosphatase, bone sialoprotein, osteocalcin and type I collagen. In addition, osterix gene expression was decreased in ANK expression-suppressed MC3T3 cells, whereas runx2 expression was increased. Bone marrow stromal cells isolated from ank/ank mice cultured in the presence of ascorbate-2-phosphate for up to 35 days showed markedly reduced mineralization compared to the mineralization of bone marrow stromal cells isolated from wild-type littermates. In conclusion, these findings suggest that ANK is a positive regulator of differentiation events towards a mature osteoblastic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-162
Number of pages5
JournalCells Tissues Organs
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Differentiation
  • Osteoblasts
  • Osterix
  • Phosphate
  • Progressive ankylosis gene
  • Runx2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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