Fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFR) 1 and 3 have distinct mitogenic activities in vitro. In several cultured cell lines, FGFR1 transmits a potent mitogenic signal, whereas FGFR3 has little or no mitogenic activity. However, in other in vitro assays the FGFR3 intracellular domain is comparable with that of FGFR1. In vivo, FGFR3 negatively regulates chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation, and activating mutations are the molecular etiology of achondroplasia. By contrast, FGFR1 transmits a proliferative signal in various cell types in vivo. These observations suggest that inhibition of the proliferating chondrocyte could be a unique property of FGFR3 or, alternatively, a unique property of the proliferating chondrocyte. To test this hypothesis, FGFR1 signaling was activated in the growth plate in cells that normally express FGFR3. Comparison of transgenic mice with an activated FGFR1 signaling pathway with an achondroplasia-like mouse that expresses a similarly activated FGFR3 signaling pathway demonstrated that both transgenes result in a similar achondroplasia-like dwarfism. These data demonstrate that suppression of mitogenic activity by FGFR signaling is a property that is unique to growth plate chondrocytes. Surprisingly, we observed that in transgenic mice expressing an activated FGFR, some synovial joints failed to develop and were replaced by cartilage. The defects in the digit joints phenocopied the symphalangism that occurs in Apert syndrome and the number of affected joints was dependent on transgene dose. In contrast to the phenotype in the growth plate, the joint phenotype was more severe in transgenic mice with an activated FGFR1 signaling pathway. The failure of joint development resulted from expanded chondrification in the presumptive joint space, suggesting a crucial role for FGF signaling in regulating the transition of condensed mesenchyme to cartilage and in defining the boundary of skeletal elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3867-3876
Number of pages10
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2001


  • Achondroplasia
  • FGF
  • FGF receptor
  • Fibroblast growth factor
  • Mouse


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