Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are potent bone-forming agents that show clinical efficacy when used in patients to augment fracture-healing. Molecular profiling of fracture tissues has confirmed that BMPs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are expressed during the healing process, and it has identified a specific temporal pattern of expression for each BMP. Mice engineered to express increased levels of BMP antagonists have fragile bones that are prone to fracture, suggesting that BMPs not only mediate bone formation in the context of repair, but may also have a role in maintaining adult bone. In this study, mice carrying floxed Bmp4 alleles were bred with Prx1-cre transgenic mice to establish limb-specific removal of Bmp4. We compared these mice to mice in which Bmp2 was specifically deleted from the limb, and we then assessed limb skeletogenesis and fracture-healing. Limb skeletogenesis occurs normally in the absence of BMP4, and postnatal skeletal growth was also unaffected when BMP4 was removed. When mice lacking BMP4 were challenged to repair fractures, they were able to mount a successful healing response. We concluded that BMP4 is not required for formation of the limb skeleton and that femur fracture-healing is unaffected by the absence of BMP4. This study demonstrates that BMP4 is not required for bone formation and function in the limb, giving us further insights into the utility of recombinant human BMPs as therapeutic agents.
Corresponding author: Vicki Rosen, PhD Department of Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 188 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail address: email@example.com