Overexpression of Bcl2 in osteoblasts inhibits osteoblast differentiation and induces osteocyte apoptosis.

Department of Cell Biology, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 11/2011; 6(11):e27487. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027487
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Bcl2 subfamily proteins, including Bcl2 and Bcl-X(L), inhibit apoptosis. As osteoblast apoptosis is in part responsible for osteoporosis in sex steroid deficiency, glucocorticoid excess, and aging, bone loss might be inhibited by the upregulation of Bcl2; however, the effects of Bcl2 overexpression on osteoblast differentiation and bone development and maintenance have not been fully investigated. To investigate these issues, we established two lines of osteoblast-specific BCL2 transgenic mice. In BCL2 transgenic mice, bone volume was increased at 6 weeks of age but not at 10 weeks of age compared with wild-type mice. The numbers of osteoblasts and osteocytes increased, but osteoid thickness and the bone formation rate were reduced in BCL2 transgenic mice with high expression at 10 weeks of age. The number of BrdU-positive cells was increased but that of TUNEL-positive cells was unaltered at 2 and 6 weeks of age. Osteoblast differentiation was inhibited, as shown by reduced Col1a1 and osteocalcin expression. Osteoblast differentiation of calvarial cells from BCL2 transgenic mice also fell in vitro. Overexpression of BCL2 in primary osteoblasts had no effect on osteoclastogenesis in co-culture with bone marrow cells. Unexpectedly, overexpression of BCL2 in osteoblasts eventually caused osteocyte apoptosis. Osteocytes, which had a reduced number of processes, gradually died with apoptotic structural alterations and the expression of apoptosis-related molecules, and dead osteocytes accumulated in cortical bone. These findings indicate that overexpression of BCL2 in osteoblasts inhibits osteoblast differentiation, reduces osteocyte processes, and causes osteocyte apoptosis.

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    ABSTRACT: Osteoblast apoptosis plays an important role in bone development and maintenance, and is in part responsible for osteoporosis in sex steroid deficiency, glucocorticoid excess, and aging. Although Bcl2 subfamily proteins, including Bcl2 and Bcl-XL, inhibit apoptosis, the physiological significance of Bcl2 in osteoblast differentiation has not been fully elucidated. To investigate this, we examined Bcl2-deficient (Bcl2(-/-)) mice. In Bcl2(-/-) mice, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)-positive osteoblasts were reduced in number, while terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL)-positive osteoblasts were increased. Unexpectedly, osteoblast differentiation was accelerated in Bcl2(-/-) mice as shown by the early appearance of osteocalcin-positive osteoblasts. Osteoblast differentiation was also accelerated in vitro when primary osteoblasts were seeded at a high concentration to minimize the reduction of the cell density by apoptosis during culture. FoxO transcription factors, whose activities are negatively regulated through the phosphorylation by Akt, play important roles in multiple cell events, including proliferation, death, differentiation, longevity, and stress response. Expressions of FasL, Gadd45a, and Bim, which are regulated by FoxOs, were upregulated; the expression and activity of FoxOs were enhanced; and the phosphorylation of Akt and that of FoxO1 and FoxO3a by Akt were reduced in Bcl2(-/-) calvariae. Further, the levels of p53 mRNA and protein were increased, and the expression of p53-target genes, Pten and Igfbp3 whose proteins inhibit Akt activation, was upregulated in Bcl2(-/-) calvariae. However, Pten but not Igfbp3 was upregulated in Bcl2(-/-) primary osteoblasts, and p53 induced Pten but not Igfbp3 in vitro. Silencing of either FoxO1 or FoxO3a inhibited and constitutively-active FoxO3a enhanced osteoblast differentiation. These findings suggest that Bcl2 deficiency induces and activates FoxOs through Akt inactivation, at least in part, by upregulating Pten expression through p53 in osteoblasts, and that the enhanced expression and activities of FoxOs may be one of the causes of accelerated osteoblast differentiation in Bcl2(-/-) mice.
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