Most cases of dominantly inherited osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) are caused by glycine substitutions in the triple helical domain of type I collagen α chains, which delay collagen folding, and cause the synthesis of collagen triple helical molecules with abnormal structure and post-translational modification. A variable extent of mutant collagen ER retention and other secondary mutation effects perturb osteoblast homeostasis and impair bone matrix quality. Amelioration of OI osteoblast homeostasis could be beneficial both to osteoblast anabolic activity and to the content of the extracellular matrix they deposit. Therefore, the effect of the chemical chaperone 4-phenylbutyrate (4-PBA) on cell homeostasis, collagen trafficking, matrix production and mineralization was investigated in primary osteoblasts from two murine models of moderate OI, Col1a1+/G349C and Col1a2+/G610C. At the cellular level, 4-PBA prevented intracellular accumulation of collagen and increased protein secretion, reducing aggregates within the mutant cells and normalizing ER morphology. At the extracellular level, increased collagen incorporation into matrix, associated with more mature collagen fibrils, was observed in osteoblasts from both models. 4-PBA also promoted OI osteoblast mineral deposition by increasing alkaline phosphatase expression and activity. Targeting osteoblast stress with 4-PBA improved both cellular and matrix abnormalities in culture, supporting further in vivo studies of its effect on bone tissue composition, strength and mineralization as a potential treatment for classical OI.
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