A novel dominant-negative mutation in Gdf5 generated by ENU mutagenesis impairs joint formation and causes osteoarthritis in mice

Hum Mol Genet. 2007 Oct 1;16(19):2366-75. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddm195. Epub 2007 Jul 26.


Growth and differentiation factor 5 (GDF5) has been implicated in chondrogenesis and joint formation, and an association of GDF5 and osteoarthritis (OA) has been reported recently. However, the in vivo function of GDF5 remains mostly unclarified. Although various human GDF5 mutations and their phenotypic consequences have been described, only loss-of-function mutations that cause brachypodism (shortening and joint ankylosis of the digits) have been reported in mice. Here, we report a new Gdf5 allele derived from a large-scale N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis screen. This allele carries an amino acid substitution (W408R) in a highly conserved region of the active signaling domain of the GDF5 protein. The mutation is semi-dominant, showing brachypodism and ankylosis in heterozygotes and much more severe brachypodism, ankylosis of the knee joint and malformation with early-onset OA of the elbow joint in homozygotes. The mutant GDF5 protein is secreted and dimerizes normally, but inhibits the function of the wild-type GDF5 protein in a dominant-negative fashion. This study further highlights a critical role of GDF5 in joint formation and the development of OA, and this mouse should serve as a good model for OA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Ankylosis / genetics
  • Ankylosis / metabolism
  • Ankylosis / pathology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Elbow Joint / metabolism
  • Elbow Joint / pathology
  • Ethylnitrosourea / toxicity
  • Female
  • Growth Differentiation Factor 5
  • HeLa Cells
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / genetics*
  • Joint Diseases / metabolism
  • Joint Diseases / pathology
  • Knee Joint / metabolism
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Mutagenesis
  • Mutation / drug effects
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Osteoarthritis / genetics*
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Transfection


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • GDF5 protein, human
  • Gdf5 protein, mouse
  • Growth Differentiation Factor 5
  • Luciferases
  • Ethylnitrosourea