NMR Spectroscopy of Native and in Vitro Tissues Implicates PolyADP Ribose in Biomineralization

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Science  16 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6185, pp. 742-746
DOI: 10.1126/science.1248167

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Fundamentals of Bone Formation

In vitro models can help guide research for tissue engineering or drug delivery, but the extent to which results from in vitro experiments may mimic in vivo ones will depend on the robustness of the model. For complex tissues like the extracellular matrix or bone, this means matching the chemical organization of the tissue at both the atomic scale and the structural level. Chow et al. (p. 742) used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to analyze a sample on both these length scales. First an isotope-enriched mouse was produced to enhance the NMR signal. Samples from these mice were then used to study the extracellular matrix of developing bone and the calcification front during fetal bone growth.


Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is useful to determine molecular structure in tissues grown in vitro only if their fidelity, relative to native tissue, can be established. Here, we use multidimensional NMR spectra of animal and in vitro model tissues as fingerprints of their respective molecular structures, allowing us to compare the intact tissues at atomic length scales. To obtain spectra from animal tissues, we developed a heavy mouse enriched by about 20% in the NMR-active isotopes carbon-13 and nitrogen-15. The resulting spectra allowed us to refine an in vitro model of developing bone and to probe its detailed structure. The identification of an unexpected molecule, poly(adenosine diphosphate ribose), that may be implicated in calcification of the bone matrix, illustrates the analytical power of this approach.

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