© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mice lacking equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1 −/− ) demonstrate progressive calcification of spinal tissues including the annulus fibrosus (AF) of the intervertebral disc (IVD). We previously established ENT1 as the primary nucleoside transporter in the AF and demonstrated dysregulation of biomineralization pathways. To identify cellular pathways altered by loss of ENT1, we conducted microarray analysis of AF tissue from wild-type (WT) and ENT1 −/− mice before calcification (2 months of age) and associated with calcification (6 months of age). Bioinformatic analyses identified cell cycle dysregulation in ENT1 −/− AF tissues and implicated the E2f family of transcription factors as potential effectors. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis confirmed increased expression of multiple E2f transcription factors and E2f interacting proteins (Rb1 and Cdk2) in ENT1 −/− AF cells compared with WT at 6 months of age. At this time point, ENT1 −/− AF tissues showed increased JNK MAPK pathway activation, CDK1, minichromosome maintenance complex component 5 (Mcm5), and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) protein expression, and PCNA-positive proliferating cells compared with WT controls. The current study demonstrates that loss of ENT1-mediated adenosine transport leads to increased cell proliferation in the AF of the IVD.
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