Gain-of-function mutation in TRPV4 identified in patients with osteonecrosis of the femoral head

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Osteonecrosis of the femoral head is a debilitating disease that involves impaired blood supply to the femoral head and leads to femoral head collapse.


We use whole-exome sequencing and Sanger sequencing to analyse a family with inherited osteonecrosis of the femoral head and fluorescent Ca2+ imaging to functionally characterise the variant protein.


We report a family with four siblings affected with inherited osteonecrosis of the femoral head and the identification of a c.2480_2483delCCCG frameshift deletion followed by a c.2486T>A substitution in one allele of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) gene. TRPV4 encodes a Ca2+-permeable cation channel known to play a role in vasoregulation and osteoclast differentiation. While pathogenic TRPV4 mutations affect the skeletal or nervous systems, association with osteonecrosis of the femoral head is novel. Functional measurements of Ca2+ influx through mutant TRPV4 channels in HEK293 cells and patient-derived dermal fibroblasts identified a TRPV4 gain of function. Analysis of channel open times, determined indirectly from measurement of TRPV4 activity within a cluster of TRPV4 channels, revealed that the TRPV4 gain of function was caused by longer channel openings.


These findings identify a novel TRPV4 mutation implicating TRPV4 and altered calcium homeostasis in the pathogenesis of osteonecrosis while reinforcing the importance of TRPV4 in bone diseases and vascular endothelium.

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