Open Access Research article

Global analysis of gene expression in mineralizing fish vertebra-derived cell lines: new insights into anti-mineralogenic effect of vanadate

Daniel M Tiago1, Vincent Laizé1, Luca Bargelloni2, Serena Ferraresso2, Chiara Romualdi3 and M Leonor Cancela14*

Author affiliations

1 Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal

2 Department of Public Health, Comparative Pathology and Veterinary Hygiene, University of Padova, Legnaro, Italy

3 CRIBI, University of Padova, Complesso Biologico Vallisneri, Via Ugo Bassi 58/B, Padova, Italy

4 Department of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine, University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:310  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-310

Published: 13 June 2011



Fish has been deemed suitable to study the complex mechanisms of vertebrate skeletogenesis and gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata), a marine teleost with acellular bone, has been successfully used in recent years to study the function and regulation of bone and cartilage related genes during development and in adult animals. Tools recently developed for gilthead seabream, e.g. mineralogenic cell lines and a 4 × 44K Agilent oligo-array, were used to identify molecular determinants of in vitro mineralization and genes involved in anti-mineralogenic action of vanadate.


Global analysis of gene expression identified 4,223 and 4,147 genes differentially expressed (fold change - FC > 1.5) during in vitro mineralization of VSa13 (pre-chondrocyte) and VSa16 (pre-osteoblast) cells, respectively. Comparative analysis indicated that nearly 45% of these genes are common to both cell lines and gene ontology (GO) classification is also similar for both cell types. Up-regulated genes (FC > 10) were mainly associated with transport, matrix/membrane, metabolism and signaling, while down-regulated genes were mainly associated with metabolism, calcium binding, transport and signaling. Analysis of gene expression in proliferative and mineralizing cells exposed to vanadate revealed 1,779 and 1,136 differentially expressed genes, respectively. Of these genes, 67 exhibited reverse patterns of expression upon vanadate treatment during proliferation or mineralization.


Comparative analysis of expression data from fish and data available in the literature for mammalian cell systems (bone-derived cells undergoing differentiation) indicate that the same type of genes, and in some cases the same orthologs, are involved in mechanisms of in vitro mineralization, suggesting their conservation throughout vertebrate evolution and across cell types. Array technology also allowed identification of genes differentially expressed upon exposure of fish cell lines to vanadate and likely involved in its anti-mineralogenic activity. Many were found to be unknown or they were never associated to bone homeostasis previously, thus providing a set of potential candidates whose study will likely bring insights into the complex mechanisms of tissue mineralization and bone formation.