Stiffness of Nanoparticulate Mineralized Collagen Scaffolds Triggers Osteogenesis via Mechanotransduction and Canonical Wnt Signaling

Qi Zhou, Shengyu Lyu, Anthony A. Bertrand, Allison C. Hu, Candace H. Chan, Xiaoyan Ren, Marley J. Dewey, Aleczandria S. Tiffany, Brendan A.C. Harley, Justine C. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of the extracellular matrix (ECM) to instruct progenitor cell differentiation has generated excitement for the development of materials-based regenerative solutions. Described a nanoparticulate mineralized collagen glycosaminoglycan (MC-GAG) material capable of inducing in vivo skull regeneration without exogenous growth factors or ex vivo progenitor cell-priming is described previously. Here, the contribution of titrating stiffness to osteogenicity is evaluated by comparing noncrosslinked (NX-MC) and crosslinked (MC) forms of MC-GAG. While both materials are osteogenic, MC demonstrates an increased expression of osteogenic markers and mineralization compared to NX-MC. Both materials are capable of autogenously activating the canonical BMPR signaling pathway with phosphorylation of Smad1/5. However, unlike NX-MC, human mesenchymal stem cells cultured on MC demonstrate significant elevations in the major mechanotransduction mediators YAP and TAZ expression, coincident with β-catenin activation in the canonical Wnt signaling pathway. Inhibition of YAP/TAZ activation reduces osteogenic expression, mineralization, and β-catenin activation in MC, with less of an effect on NX-MC. YAP/TAZ inhibition also results in a reciprocal increase in Smad1/5 phosphorylation and BMP2 expression. The results indicate that increasing MC-GAG stiffness induces osteogenic differentiation via the mechanotransduction mediators YAP/TAZ and the canonical Wnt signaling pathway, whereas the canonical BMPR signaling pathway is activated independent of stiffness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000370
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Wnt
  • mechanotransduction
  • scaffolds
  • β-catenin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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