Association of genetic variation in COL11A1 with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Hao Yu, Anas M. Khanshour, Aki Ushiki, Nao Otomo, Yoshinao Koike, Elisabet Einarsdottir, Yanhui Fan, Lilian Antunes, Yared H. Kidane, Reuel Cornelia, Rory R. Sheng, Yichi Zhang, Jimin Pei, Nick V. Grishin, Bret M. Evers, Jason Pui Yin Cheung, John A. Herring, Chikashi Terao, You Qiang Song, Christina A. GurnettPaul Gerdhem, Shiro Ikegawa, Jonathan J. Rios, Nadav Ahituv, Carol A. Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a common and progressive spinal deformity in children that exhibits striking sexual dimorphism, with girls at more than fivefold greater risk of severe disease compared to boys. Despite its medical impact, the molecular mechanisms that drive AIS are largely unknown. We previously defined a female-specific AIS genetic risk locus in an enhancer near the PAX1 gene. Here, we sought to define the roles of PAX1 and newly identified AIS-associated genes in the developmental mechanism of AIS. In a genetic study of 10,519 individuals with AIS and 93,238 unaffected controls, significant association was identified with a variant in COL11A1 encoding collagen (α1) XI (rs3753841; NM_080629.2_c.4004C>T; p.(Pro1335Leu); p=7.07E-11, OR = 1.118). Using CRISPR mutagenesis we generated Pax1 knockout mice (Pax1-/-). In postnatal spines we found that PAX1 and collagen (α1) XI protein both localize within the intervertebral disc-vertebral junction region encompassing the growth plate, with less collagen (α1) XI detected in Pax1-/- spines compared to wild-type. By genetic targeting we found that wild-type Col11a1 expression in costal chondrocytes suppresses expression of Pax1 and of Mmp3, encoding the matrix metalloproteinase 3 enzyme implicated in matrix remodeling. However, the latter suppression was abrogated in the presence of the AIS-associated COL11A1P1335L mutant. Further, we found that either knockdown of the estrogen receptor gene Esr2 or tamoxifen treatment significantly altered Col11a1 and Mmp3 expression in chondrocytes. We propose a new molecular model of AIS pathogenesis wherein genetic variation and estrogen signaling increase disease susceptibility by altering a PAX1-COL11a1-MMP3 signaling axis in spinal chondrocytes.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Jan 26 2024


  • collagen XI
  • estrogen signaling
  • extracellular matrix
  • genetics
  • genomics
  • human
  • mouse
  • scoliosis


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