CREB mediates brain serotonin regulation of bone mass through its expression in ventromedial hypothalamic neurons.
ABSTRACT Serotonin is a bioamine regulating bone mass accrual differently depending on its site of synthesis. It decreases accrual when synthesized in the gut, and increases it when synthesized in the brain. The signal transduction events elicited by gut-derived serotonin once it binds to the Htr1b receptor present on osteoblasts have been identified and culminate in cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) regulation of osteoblast proliferation. In contrast, we do not know how brain-derived serotonin favors bone mass accrual following its binding to the Htr2c receptor on neurons of the hypothalamic ventromedial nucleus (VMH). We show here--through gene expression analysis, serotonin treatment of wild-type and Htr2c(-/-) hypothalamic explants, and cell-specific gene deletion in the mouse--that, following its binding to the Htr2c receptor on VMH neurons, serotonin uses a calmodulin kinase (CaMK)-dependent signaling cascade involving CaMKKβ and CaMKIV to decrease the sympathetic tone and increase bone mass accrual. We further show that the transcriptional mediator of these events is CREB, whose phosphorylation on Ser 133 is increased by CaMKIV following serotonin treatment of hypothalamic explants. A microarray experiment identified two genes necessary for optimum sympathetic activity whose expression is regulated by CREB. These results provide a molecular understanding of how serotonin signals in hypothalamic neurons to regulate bone mass accrual and identify CREB as a critical determinant of this function, although through different mechanisms depending on the cell type, neuron, or osteoblast in which it is expressed.