Mesenchymal Cell-Derived Juxtacrine Wnt1 Signaling Regulates Osteoblast Activity and Osteoclast Differentiation

Wang F1, Tarkkonen K1, Nieminen-Pihala V1, Nagano K2, Majidi RA1, Puolakkainen T1, Rummukainen P1, Lehto J1, Roivainen A3, Zhang FP4, Mäkitie O5,6, Baron R2, Kiviranta R1,7.

J Bone Miner Res. 2019 Jan 28. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3680. [Epub ahead of print]

Human genetic evidence demonstrates that WNT1 mutations cause osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) and early-onset osteoporosis implicating WNT1 as a major regulator of bone metabolism. However, its main cellular source and mechanisms of action in bone remain elusive. We generated global and limb bud mesenchymal cell-targeted deletion of Wnt1 in mice. Heterozygous deletion of Wnt1 resulted in mild trabecular osteopenia due to decreased osteoblast function. Targeted deletion of Wnt1 in mesenchymal progenitors led to spontaneous fractures due to impaired osteoblast function and increased bone resorption, mimicking the severe OI phenotype in humans with homozygous WNT1 mutations. Importantly, we demonstrated for the first time that Wnt1 signals strictly in a juxtacrine manner to induce osteoblast differentiation and to suppress osteoclastogenesis, in part via canonical Wnt signaling. In conclusion, mesenchymal cell-derived Wnt1, acting in short range, is an essential regulator of bone homeostasis and an intriguing target for therapeutic interventions for bone diseases.


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