Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare genetic disorder whose most debilitating pathology is progressive and cumulative heterotopic ossification (HO) of skeletal muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. FOP is caused by mutations in the type I BMP receptor gene ACVR1, which enable ACVR1 to utilize its natural antagonist, activin A, as an agonistic ligand. The physiological relevance of this property is underscored by the fact that HO in FOP is exquisitely dependent on activation of FOP-mutant ACVR1 by activin A, an effect countered by inhibition of anti–activin A via monoclonal antibody treatment. Hence, we surmised that anti-ACVR1 antibodies that block activation of ACVR1 by ligands should also inhibit HO in FOP and provide an additional therapeutic option for this condition. Therefore, we generated anti-ACVR1 monoclonal antibodies that block ACVR1’s activation by its ligands. Surprisingly, in vivo, these anti-ACVR1 antibodies stimulated HO and activated signaling of FOP-mutant ACVR1. This property was restricted to FOP-mutant ACVR1 and resulted from anti-ACVR1 antibody–mediated dimerization of ACVR1. Conversely, wild-type ACVR1 was inhibited by anti-ACVR1 antibodies. These results uncover an additional property of FOP-mutant ACVR1 and indicate that anti-ACVR1 antibodies should not be considered as therapeutics for FOP.
Senem Aykul, Lily Huang, Lili Wang, Nanditha M. Das, Sandra Reisman, Yonaton Ray, Qian Zhang, Nyanza Rothman, Kalyan C. Nannuru, Vishal Kamat, Susannah Brydges, Luca Troncone, Laura Johnsen, Paul B. Yu, Sergio Fazio, John Lees-Shepard, Kevin Schutz, Andrew J. Murphy, Aris N. Economides, Vincent Idone, Sarah J. Hatsell