The molecular program underlying tendon development is not fully identified. Interactions with components of the musculoskeletal system are important for limb tendon formation. Limb tendons initiate their development independently of muscles, however muscles are required for further tendon differentiation. We show that both FGF/ERK MAPK and TGFβ/SMAD2/3 signalling pathways are required and sufficient for SCX expression in chick undifferentiated limb cells, while the FGF/ERKMAPK pathway inhibits Scx expression in mouse undifferentiated limb mesodermal cells. During differentiation, muscle contraction is required to maintain SCX, TNMD and THBS2 expression in chick limbs. The activities of FGF/ERKMAPK and TGFβ/SMAD2/3 signalling pathways are decreased in tendons under immobilisation conditions. Application of FGF4 or TGFβ2 ligands prevents SCX downregulation in limbs in immobilisation conditions. TGFβ2 but not FGF4 prevent TNMD and THBS2 downregulation in immobilisation conditions. We did not identify any intracellular crosstalk between both signalling pathways in their positive effect on SCX expression. Independently of each other, both FGF and TGFβ promote tendon commitment of limb mesodermal cells and act downstream of mechanical forces to regulate tendon differentiation during chick limb development.
- Received February 9, 2016.
- Accepted August 25, 2016.