Matrix stiffness promotes cartilage endplate chondrocyte calcification in disc degeneration via miR-20a targeting ANKH expression.Sci Rep. 2016 05 04; 6:25401.SR
The mechanical environment is crucial for intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). However, the mechanisms underlying the regulation of cartilage endplate (CEP) calcification by altered matrix stiffness remain unclear. In this study, we found that matrix stiffness of CEP was positively correlated with the degree of IDD, and stiff matrix, which mimicked the severe degeneration of CEP, promoted inorganic phosphate-induced calcification in CEP chondrocytes. Co-expression analysis of the miRNA and mRNA profiles showed that increasing stiffness resulted in up-regulation of miR-20a and down-regulation of decreased ankylosis protein homolog (ANKH) during inorganic phosphate-induced calcification in CEP chondrocytes. Through a dual luciferase reporter assay, we confirmed that miR-20a directly targets 3'-untranslated regions of ANKH. The inhibition of miR-20a attenuated the calcium deposition and calcification-related gene expression, whereas the overexpression of miR-20a enhanced calcification in CEP chondrocytes on stiff matrix. The rescue of ANKH expression restored the decreased pyrophosphate efflux and inhibited calcification. In clinical samples, the levels of ANKH expression were inversely associated with the degeneration degree of CEP. Thus, our findings demonstrate that the miR-20a/ANKH axis mediates the stiff matrix- promoted CEP calcification, suggesting that miR-20a and ANKH are potential targets in restraining the progression of IDD.