Limb- and tendon-specific Adamtsl2 deletion identifies a role for ADAMTSL2 in tendon growth in a mouse model for geleophysic dysplasia

Dirk Hubmacher, Nandaraj Taye, Zerina Balic, Stetson Thacker, Sheila M. Adams, David E. Birk, Ronen Schweitzer, Suneel S. Apte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Geleophysic dysplasia is a rare, frequently lethal condition characterized by severe short stature with progressive joint contractures, cardiac, pulmonary, and skin anomalies. Geleophysic dysplasia results from dominant fibrillin-1 (FBN1) or recessive ADAMTSL2 mutations, suggesting a functional link between ADAMTSL2 and fibrillin microfibrils. Mice lacking ADAMTSL2 die at birth, which has precluded analysis of postnatal limb development and mechanisms underlying the skeletal anomalies of geleophysic dysplasia. Here, detailed expression analysis of Adamtsl2 using an intragenic lacZ reporter shows strong Adamtsl2 expression in limb tendons. Expression in developing and growing bones is present in regions that are destined to become articular cartilage but is absent in growth plate cartilage. Consistent with strong tendon expression, Adamtsl2 conditional deletion in limb mesenchyme using Prx1-Cre led to tendon anomalies, albeit with normal collagen fibrils, and distal limb shortening, providing a mouse model for geleophysic dysplasia. Unexpectedly, conditional Adamtsl2 deletion using Scx-Cre, a tendon-specific Cre-deleter strain, which does not delete in cartilage, also impaired skeletal growth. Recombinant ADAMTSL2 is shown here to colocalize with fibrillin microfibrils in vitro, and enhanced staining of fibrillin-1 microfibrils was observed in Prx1-Cre Adamtsl2 tendons. The findings show that ADAMTSL2 specifically regulates microfibril assembly in tendons and that proper microfibril composition in tendons is necessary for tendon growth. We speculate that reduced bone growth in geleophysic dysplasia may result from external tethering by short tendons rather than intrinsic growth plate anomalies. Taken together with previous work, we suggest that GD results from abnormal microfibril assembly in tissues, and that ADAMTSL2 may limit the assembly of fibrillin microfibrils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-53
Number of pages16
JournalMatrix Biology
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • ADAMTS-like protein
  • Acromelic dysplasia
  • Fibrillin microfibrils
  • Geleophysic dysplasia
  • Skeletal growth
  • Tendon


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