Bone sialoprotein mRNA expression and ultrastructural localization in fetal porcine calvarial bone: comparisons with osteopontin
Chen, J.; Mckee, M.D.; Nanci, A.; Sodek, J.
Histochemical Journal 26(1): 67-78
Bone sialoprotein (BSP) and osteopontin (OPN) are two major non-collagenous proteins in bone that have similar biochemical properties and can mediate cell attachment through an RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp) motif that recognizes the vitronectin receptor. To facilitate evaluations of the biological functions of BSP and OPN in bone formation, affinity-purified rabbit polyclonal antibodies against porcine BSP and OPN were used, together with a high-resolution protein A-gold immunocytochemical technique to reveal the ultrastructural localization of these proteins in undermineralized sections of 50-day fetal porcine calvarial bone. In addition, 35S-labelled antisense riboprobes were prepared to demonstrate the cellular expression of BSP and OPN in the same tissues using in situ hybridization. Immunolocalization for both BSP and OPN revealed the highest density of gold particles associated with electron-dense organic material found at the mineralization front and in 'cement lines'. Labelling was also observed in the mineralized matrix over electron-dense material between collagen fibrils. in the osteoid of newly-formed bone, immunogold labelling for BSP and OPN was associated with loci of mineralization, which were often characterized by feathery clusters of fine needle-like crystals. Results of in situ hybridization on the same tissues demonstrated that BSP mRNA expression was restricted to differentiated osteoblasts with particularly strong signals evident at sites of de novo bone formation. More moderate expression of BSP was observed in 'older' osteoblasts and in some of the newly-entrapped osteocytes. Although expression of OPN mRNA was also observed in osteoblasts and osteocytes, the level of hybridization was similar for most bone cells and not markedly stronger than the signal observed in some stromal cells. While it is evident from these and other studies that both BSP and OPN are associated with bone formation, the differences observed in cellular expression indicate distinct roles for these proteins in bone formation.