New functions for the proprioceptive system in skeletal biology.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences


Golgi tendon organs; adolescent idiopathic scoliosis; fracture repair; muscle spindle; musculoskeleton; proprioception


Muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) are two types of sensory receptors that respond to changes in length or tension of skeletal muscles. These mechanosensors have long been known to participate in both proprioception and stretch reflex. Here, we present recent findings implicating these organs in maintenance of spine alignment as well as in realignment of fractured bones. These discoveries have been made in several mouse lines lacking functional mechanosensors in part or completely. In both studies, the absence of functional spindles and GTOs produced a more severe phenotype than that of spindles alone. Interestingly, the spinal curve phenotype, which appeared during peripubertal development, bears resemblance to the human condition adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. This similarity may contribute to the study of the disease by offering both an animal model and a clue as to its aetiology. Moreover, it raises the possibility that impaired proprioceptive signalling may be involved in the aetiology of other conditions. Overall, these new findings expand considerably the scope of involvement of proprioception in musculoskeletal development and function.This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue 'Mechanics of development'.

Clinical Institute

Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)