Mepe is expressed during skeletal development and regeneration
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- Lu, C., Huang, S., Miclau, T. et al. Histochem Cell Biol (2004) 121: 493. doi:10.1007/s00418-004-0653-5
Matrix extracellular phosphoglycoprotein (Mepe) is a bone metabolism regulator that is expressed by osteocytes in normal adult bone. Here, we used an immunohistochemical approach to study whether Mepe has a role in murine long bone development and regeneration. Our data showed that Mepe protein was produced by osteoblasts and osteocytes during skeletogenesis, as early as 2 days postnatal. During the healing of non-stabilized tibial fractures, which occurs through endochondral ossification, Mepe expression was first detected in fibroblast-like cells within the callus by 6 days postfracture. By 10 and 14 days postfracture (the hard callus phase of repair), Mepe was expressed within late hypertrophic chondrocytes and osteocytes in the regenerating tissues. Mepe became externalized in osteocyte lacunae during this period. By 28 days postfracture (the remodeling phase of repair), Mepe continued to be robustly expressed in osteocytes of the regenerating bone. We compared the Mepe expression profile with that of alkaline phosphatase, a marker of bone mineralization. We found that both Mepe and alkaline phosphatase increased during the hard callus phase of repair. In the remodeling phase of repair, Mepe expression levels remained high while alkaline phosphatase activity decreased. We also examined Mepe expression during cortical bone defect healing, which occurs through intramembranous ossification. Mepe immunostaining was found within fibroblast-like cells, osteoblasts, and osteocytes in the regenerating bone, through 5 to 21 days postsurgery. Thus, Mepe appears to play a role in both long bone regeneration and the latter stages of skeletogenesis.