ECSIT links TLR and BMP signaling in FOP connective tissue progenitor cells.Bone. 2018 04; 109:201-209.BONE
Clinical and laboratory observations strongly suggest that the innate immune system induces flare-ups in the setting of dysregulated bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling in fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). In order to investigate the signaling substrates of this hypothesis, we examined toll-like receptor (TLR) activation and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling in connective tissue progenitor cells (CTPCs) from FOP patients and unaffected individuals. We found that inflammatory stimuli broadly activate TLR expression in FOP CTPCs and that TLR3/TLR4 signaling amplifies BMP pathway signaling through both ligand dependent and independent mechanisms. Importantly, Evolutionarily Conserved Signaling Intermediate in the Toll Pathway (ECSIT) integrates TLR injury signaling with dysregulated BMP pathway signaling in FOP CTPCs. These findings provide novel insight into the cell autonomous integration of injury signals from the innate immune system with dysregulated response signals from the BMP signaling pathway and provide new exploratory targets for therapeutic approaches to blocking the induction and amplification of FOP lesions.