Ihh and PTH1R signaling in limb mesenchyme is required for proper segmentation and subsequent formation and growth of digit bones

Katsuhiko Amano, Michael Densmore, Yi Fan, Beate Lanske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Digit formation is a process, which requires the proper segmentation, formation and growth of phalangeal bones and is precisely regulated by several important factors. One such factor is Ihh, a gene linked to BDA1 and distal symphalangism in humans. In existing mouse models, mutations in Ihh have been shown to cause multiple synostosis in the digits but lead to perinatal lethality. To better study the exact biological and pathological events which occur in these fused digits, we used a more viable Prx1-Cre;Ihhfl/fl model in which Cre recombinase is expressed during mesenchymal condensation in the earliest limb buds at E9.5 dpc and found that mutant digits continuously fuse postnatally until phalanges are finally replaced by an unsegmented "one-stick bone". Mutant mice displayed osteocalcin-positive mature osteoblasts, but had reduced proliferation and abnormal osteogenesis. Because of the close interaction between Ihh and PTHrP during endochondral ossification, we also examined the digits of Prx1-Cre;PTH1Rfl/fl mice, where the receptor for PTHrP was conditionally deleted. Surprisingly, we found PTH1R deletion caused symphalangism, demonstrating another novel function of PTH1R signaling in digit formation. We characterized the symphalangism process whereby initial cartilaginous fusion prevented epiphyseal growth plate formation, resulting in resorption and replacement of the remaining cartilage by bony tissue. Chondrocyte differentiation displayed abnormal directionality in both mutants. Lastly, Prx1-Cre;Ihhfl/fl;Jansen Tg mice, in which a constitutively active PTH1R allele was introduced into Ihh mutants, were established to address the possible involvement of PTH1R signaling in Ihh mutant digits. These rescue mice failed to show significantly improved phenotype, suggesting that PTH1R signaling in chondrocytes is not sufficient to restore digit formation. Our results demonstrate that Ihh and PTH1R signaling in limb mesenchyme are both essential to regulate proper development of digit structures, although they appear to use different mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-266
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Digit bony fusion
  • Indian hedgehog
  • Mesenchymal cells
  • PTH1R signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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