Postnatal Calvarial Skeletal Stem Cells Expressing PRX1 Reside Exclusively in the Calvarial Sutures and Are Required for Bone Regeneration

Stem Cell Reports. 2017 Apr 11;8(4):933-946. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2017.03.002. Epub 2017 Mar 30.


Post-natal skeletal stem cells expressing PRX1 (pnPRX1+) have been identified in the calvaria and in the axial skeleton. Here we characterize the location and functional capacity of the calvarial pnPRX1+ cells. We found that pnPRX1+ reside exclusively in the calvarial suture niche and decrease in number with age. They are distinct from preosteoblasts and osteoblasts of the sutures, respond to WNT signaling in vitro and in vivo by differentiating into osteoblasts, and, upon heterotopic transplantation, are able to regenerate bone. Diphtheria toxin A (DTA)-mediated lineage ablation of pnPRX1+ cells and suturectomy perturb regeneration of calvarial bone defects and confirm that pnPRX1+ cells of the sutures are required for bone regeneration. Orthotopic transplantation of sutures with traceable pnPRX1+ cells into wild-type animals shows that pnPRX1+ cells of the suture contribute to calvarial bone defect regeneration. DTA-mediated lineage ablation of pnPRX1+ does not, however, interfere with calvarial development.

Keywords: PRRX1; PRX1; calvarial bone regeneration; calvarial development; calvarial skeletal stem cells; stem cell niche.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Bone Regeneration*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Homeodomain Proteins / analysis
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Skull / cytology*
  • Skull / growth & development
  • Skull / physiology*
  • Skull / ultrastructure
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Prrx1 protein, mouse