Osteoblasts mineralize bone matrix by promoting hydroxyapatite crystal formation and growth in the interior of membrane-limited matrix vesicles (MVs) and by propagating the crystals onto the collagenous extracellular matrix. Two osteoblast proteins, tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) and plasma cell membrane glycoprotein-1 (PC-1) are involved in this process. Mutations in the TNAP gene result in the inborn error of metabolism known as hypophosphatasia, characterized by poorly mineralized bones, spontaneous fractures, and elevated extracellular concentrations of inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi). PPi suppresses the formation and growth of hydroxyapatite crystals. PPi is produced by the nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase activity of a family of isozymes, with PC-1 being the only member present in MVs. Mice with spontaneous mutations in the PC-1 gene have hypermineralization abnormalities that include osteoarthritis and ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament of the spine. Here, we show the respective correction of bone mineralization abnormalities in knockout mice null for both the TNAP (Akp2) and PC-1 (Enpp1) genes. Each allele of Akp2 and Enpp1 has a measurable influence on mineralization status in vivo. Ex vivo experiments using cultured double-knockout osteoblasts and their MVs demonstrate normalization of PPi content and mineral deposition. Our data provide evidence that TNAP and PC-1 are key regulators of the extracellular PPi concentrations required for controlled bone mineralization. Our results suggest that inhibiting PC-1 function may be a viable therapeutic strategy for hypophosphatasia. Conversely, interfering with TNAP activity may correct pathological hyperossification because of PPi insufficiency
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