1 Section of Systems Biology Research, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Center for Healthy Ageing, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet3 unknown4 Section of Systems Biology Research, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
Tendons are prominent members of the family of fibrous connective tissues (FCTs), which collectively are the most abundant tissues in vertebrates and have crucial roles in transmitting mechanical force and linking organs. Tendon diseases are among the most common arthropathy disorders; thus knowledge of tendon gene regulation is essential for a complete understanding of FCT biology. Here we show autonomous circadian rhythms in mouse tendon and primary human tenocytes, controlled by an intrinsic molecular circadian clock. Time-series microarrays identified the first circadian transcriptome of murine tendon, revealing that 4.6% of the transcripts (745 genes) are expressed in a circadian manner. One of these genes was Grem2, which oscillated in antiphase to BMP signaling. Moreover, recombinant human Gremlin-2 blocked BMP2-induced phosphorylation of Smad1/5 and osteogenic differentiation of human tenocytes in vitro. We observed dampened Grem2 expression, deregulated BMP signaling, and spontaneously calcifying tendons in young CLOCKΔ19 arrhythmic mice and aged wild-type mice. Thus, disruption of circadian control, through mutations or aging, of Grem2/BMP signaling becomes a new focus for the study of calcific tendinopathy, which affects 1-in-5 people over the age of 50 years.