High-impact FN1 mutation decreases chondrogenic potential and affects cartilage deposition via decreased binding to collagen type II I| November 5 – 2021 | Science Advances

Marcella van Hoolwerff, Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz, Marga Bouma,  H. Eka D. Suchiman, Roman i. Koning, Carolina r. Jost, Aat a. Mulder, Christian Freund, Farshid Guilak, Yolande F. M. Ramos and Ingrid Meulenbelt


Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent joint disease worldwide, yet progress in development of effective disease-modifying treatments is slow because of lack of insight into the underlying disease pathways. Therefore, we aimed to identify the causal pathogenic mutation in an early-onset osteoarthritis family, followed by functional studies in human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) in an in vitro organoid cartilage model. We demonstrated that the identified causal missense mutation in the gelatin-binding domain of the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin resulted in significant decreased binding capacity to collagen type II. Further analyses of formed hiPSC-derived neo-cartilage tissue highlighted that mutated fibronectin affected chondrogenic capacity and propensity to a procatabolic osteoarthritic state. Together, we demonstrate that binding of fibronectin to collagen type II is crucial for fibronectin downstream gene expression of chondrocytes. We advocate that effective treatment development should focus on restoring or maintaining proper binding between fibronectin and collagen type II.