Granting immunity to FOP and catching heterotopic ossification in the Act

Frederick S. Kaplan, Robert J. Pignolo, Eileen M. Shore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The progressive transformation of one organ system into another is a fundamental signature of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), the most catastrophic form of extraskeletal bone formation in humans. In all affected individuals, FOP is caused by heterozygous missense gain-of-function mutations in Activin receptor A type I (ACVR1), a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type I receptor. Loss of autoinhibition of the mutant receptor (mACVR1) results in dysregulated BMP pathway signaling, and is necessary for the myriad developmental features of FOP, but does not appear sufficient to induce the episodic flare-ups that lead to disabling post-natal heterotopic endochondral ossification (HEO) and that are a hallmark of the disease. Post-natal FOP flare-ups strongly implicate an underlying immunological trigger involving inflammation and the innate immune system. Recent studies implicate canonical and non-canonical TGFβ/BMP family ligands in the amplification of mACVR1 signaling leading to the formation of FOP lesions and resultant HEO. BMP and Activin ligands that stimulate mACVR1 signaling also have critical regulatory functions in the immune system. Cross-talk between the morphogenetic and immunological pathways that regulate tissue maintenance and wound healing identifies potential robust therapeutic targets for FOP. Here we review current evidence for an immunological trigger for flare-ups and HEO in FOP, propose a working schema for the pathophysiology of observed phenomena, and highlight outstanding questions under investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • ACVR1
  • Activin A
  • Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)
  • Bone morphogenetic protein signaling
  • Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP)
  • Heterotopic ossification
  • Innate immune system
  • Toll-like receptor (TLR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Granting immunity to FOP and catching heterotopic ossification in the Act'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this