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 Activin A via monoclonal antibody treatment. Hence, we surmised that ACVR1 antibodies that block activation of ACVR1 by ligand should also inhibit HO in FOP and provide an additional therapeutic option for this condition. Therefore, we generated ACVR1 monoclonal antibodies that block ACVR1’s activation by its ligands. Surprisingly, in vivo, these ACVR1 antibodies stimulate HO and activate signaling of FOP-mutant ACVR1. This property is restricted to FOP-mutant ACVR1 and results from ACVR1 antibody-mediated dimerization of ACVR1. Conversely, wild type ACVR1 is inhibited by ACVR1 antibodies. These results uncover an additional novel property of FOP-mutant ACVR1 and indicate that 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 J. 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