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1.  N-cadherin adherens junctions mediate osteogenesis through PI3K signaling 
Bone  2011;50(1):54-62.
During endochondral ossification, the cartilage is surrounded by a layer of cells that constitute the perichondrium. Communication between osteoblasts in the perichondrium via N-cadherin adherens junctions is essential for endochondral bone growth. We observed that adherens junction molecule N-cadherin and its interacting partners p120, β-catenin and PTEN are expressed by cells present in the perichondrium. To study if N-cadherin mediated adherens junctions play a role in mediating signal transduction events during bone development, we utilized MC3T3E1 preosteoblasts plated at sub confluent (low) and confluent (high) densities to mimic adherens junction formation. When MC3T3E1 cells were plated at high density we observed an increase in phosphorylation of AKTSer473 and its downstream target GSK3Ser9, which coincided with an increase in Osterix, Osteomodulin and Osteoglycin gene expression. Using immunofluorescence, we identified N-cadherin, p120 and β-catenin localized at the membrane of MC3T3E1 cells. Treatment of confluent MC3T3E1cells with an N-cadherin junction inhibitor-EGTA and a PI3K inhibitor LY294002 resulted in reduction of phosphorylation levels of AKT and GSK3 and expression of Osterix, Osteomodulin and Osteoglycin. Furthermore, utilizing an N-cadherin blocking antibody resulted in reduced AKT signaling and Osterix gene expression, suggesting that osteoblast junction formation is linked to activation of PI3K signaling, which leads to osteoblast differentiation. To further explore the strength of this linkage, we utilized a conditional knockout approach using Dermo1cre to delete β-catenin and PTEN, two important proteins known to be essential for adherens junctions and PI3K signaling, respectively. In the absence of β-catenin, we observed a decrease in adherens junctions and AKT signaling in the perichondrium. PTEN deletion, on the other hand, increased the number of cells expressing N-cadherin in the perichondrium. These observations show that N-cadherin mediated junctions between osteoblasts are needed for osteoblast gene transcription.
PMCID: PMC3251172  PMID: 21964322
N-cadherin; Osteoblasts; Osterix; Adherens junctions
2.  IGF-1 regulation of key signaling pathways in bone 
BoneKEy Reports  2013;2:437.
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is an unique peptide that functions in an endocrine/paracrine and autocrine manner in most tissues. Although it was postulated initially that liver-derived IGF-1 was the major source of IGF-1 (that is, the somatomedin hypothesis), it is also produced in a wide variety of tissues and can function in numerous ways as both a proliferative and differentiative factor. One such tissue is bone and all cell lineages in the skeleton have been shown to not only require IGF-1 for normal development and function but also to respond to IGF-1 via the IGF-1 receptor. Ligand-receptor activation leads to several distinct downstream signaling cascades, which have significant implications for cell survival, protein synthesis and energy utilization. The novel role of IGF-1 in regulating metabolic demands of the bone remodeling unit is currently under investigation. More studies are likely to shed new light on various aspects of skeletal physiology and potentially may lead to new therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3818534  PMID: 24422135
3.  Conditional Deletion of Cytochrome P450 Reductase in Osteoprogenitor Cells Affects Long Bone and Skull Development in Mice Recapitulating Antley-Bixler Syndrome: Role of a Redox Enzyme in Development 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75638.
NADPH-cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase (POR) is the primary electron donor for cytochromes P450, dehydrocholesterol reductase, heme oxygenase, and squalene monooxygenase. Human patients with specific mutations in POR exhibit severe developmental malformations including disordered steroidogenesis, sexual ambiguities and various bone defects, similar to those seen in patients with Antley-Bixler syndrome (ABS). To probe the role of POR during bone development, we generated a conditional knockout mouse (CKO) by cross breeding Porlox/lox and Dermo1 Cre mice. CKO mice were smaller than their littermate controls and exhibited significant craniofacial and long bone abnormalities. Differential staining of the CKO mice skull bases shows premature fusion of the sphenooccipital and basioccipital-exoccipital synchondroses. Class III malocclusion was noted in adult knockout mice with an unusual overgrowth of the lower incisors. Shorter long bones were observed along with a reduction in the bone volume fraction, measured by microCT, in the Por-deleted mice compared to age- and sex-matched littermate controls. Concerted up- or down-regulation of proteins in the FGF signaling pathway observed by immunohistochemistry in the tibia samples of CKO mice compared to wild type controls shows a decrease in the FGF signaling pathway. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a mouse model that recapitulates both skull and long bone defects upon Por deletion, offering an approach to study the sequelae of POR mutations. This unique model demonstrates that P450 metabolism in bone itself is potentially important for proper bone development, and that an apparent link exists between the POR and FGF signaling pathways, begging the question of how an oxidation-reduction flavoprotein affects developmental and cellular signaling processes.
PMCID: PMC3783497  PMID: 24086598
4.  Bone as an Endocrine Organ 
Bone has classically been viewed as an inert structure that is necessary for mobility, calcium homeostasis, and maintenance of the hematopoietic niche. Recent advances in bone biology using complex genetic manipulations in mice have highlighted the importance of bone not only as a structural scaffold to support the human body, but also as a regulator of a number of metabolic processes that are independent of mineral metabolism. These advances point to the skeleton as an endocrine organ that modulates glucose tolerance and testosterone production by secretion of a bone-specific protein, osteocalcin. This review will detail how bone has emerged as a bona-fide endocrine “gland”, and with that, the potential therapeutic implications that could be realized for this hormone-secreting tissue.
PMCID: PMC3571654  PMID: 22784851
5.  An essential role for the circadian-regulated gene Nocturnin in osteogenesis: the importance of local timekeeping in skeletal homeostasis 
The role of circadian proteins in regulating whole body metabolism and bone turnover has been studied in detail and has led to the discovery of an elemental system for timekeeping involving the core genes Clock, Bmal1, Per, and Cry. Nocturnin, a peripheral circadian-regulated gene has been shown to play a very important role in regulating adipogenesis by deadenylation of key mRNAs and intra-cytoplasmic transport of PPARγ. The role that it plays in osteogenesis has previously not been studied in detail. In this report we examined in vitro and in vivo osteogenesis in the presence and absence of Nocturnin and show that loss of Nocturnin enhances bone formation and can rescue Rosiglitazone induced bone loss in mice. The circadian rhythm of Nocturnin is likely to be an essential element of marrow stromal cell fate.
PMCID: PMC3285261  PMID: 22082366
Nocturnin; rosiglitazone; PPARγ
6.  New Insights into Osteoblasts and Their Role in Bone Formation: The Central Role of PI3Kinase 
The Journal of Endocrinology  2011;211(2):123-130.
Studies on bone development, formation and turnover have grown exponentially over the last decade in part because of the utility of genetic models. One area that has received considerable attention has been the PI3K signaling pathway, which has emerged as a major survival network for osteoblasts. Genetic engineering has enabled investigators to study downstream effectors of PI3K by directly over-expressing activated forms of AKT in cells of the skeletal lineage or deleting Pten which leads to a constitutively active AKT. The results from these studies have provided novel insights into bone development and remodeling, critical processes in the lifelong maintenance of skeletal health. This paper reviews those data in relation to recent advances in osteoblast biology and their potential relevance to chronic disorders of the skeleton and their treatment.
PMCID: PMC3348869  PMID: 21673026

Results 1-6 (6)