Phenotypic plasticity and mechano-transduction in the teleost skeleton

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The proper formation, growth and maintenance of many bones depends on the mechanical loads generated by gravity and muscles. Mechanical loading by muscle forces does not only affect bone growth and maintenance in adult and juvenile vertebrates, but also affects larval and embryonic bone development. We have reviewed the current understanding of mechanotransduction in birds and mammals and compared it to teleosts. The major mechanosensing cells in the adult mammalian and avian skeleton are osteocytes. They are interconnected via cell processes and are contained within a canalicular network. Basal teleosts have osteocytes but their connectivity is questionable and the presence of a functional canalicular network is unlikely. Advanced teleosts have acellular bone and therefore lack osteocytes. Yet the skeleton of teleosts does show adaptive responses to changes in mechanical load. In these animals it is likely that osteoblasts, bone surface cells and chondrocytes act as mechanosensors. The factors expressed by osteocytes upon mechanical stimulation have been extensively investigated in vitro and in vivo in adult mammals and birds. Less is, however, known about the mechanotransduction pathway during embryonic bone development. The zebrafish presents new opportunities to analyze the mechanotransduction pathway during early (larval) bone formation due to the ex utero development and genetic analyses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-293
JournalJournal of Applied Ichthyology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • dicentrarchus-labrax l.
  • zebrafish danio-rerio
  • bone-formation
  • osteogenic stimulus
  • gene-expression
  • chondrocyte proliferation
  • mechanical stimulation
  • atlantic salmon
  • axial skeleton
  • retinoic acid


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