Molecular dissection of RANKL signaling pathways in osteoclasts

Cathy Wang

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    142 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract] Bone remodeling is intricately regulated by osteoclast-mediated bone resorption and osteoblast-mediated bone formation. The elevation in osteoclast number and/or activity is a major hallmark of several common pathological bone disorders including post-menopausal osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, Paget's disease, and tumour-mediated osteolysis. Receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) is a key cytokine for osteoclast differentiation and activation. The association of RANKL to its cognate receptor, RANK, which is expressed on osteoclast precursors and mature osteoclasts, is essential for osteoclast formation and activation. The intimate interaction between RANKL and RANK triggers the activation of a cascade of signal transduction pathways including NF-κB, NFAT, MAPK and PI3 kinase. Although osteoclast signaling pathways have been intensively studied, the precise molecules and signaling events which underlie osteoclast differentiation and function remain unclear. In order to dissect the molecular mechanism(s) regulating osteoclast differentiation and activity, this thesis herein explores the key RANKL/RANK-mediated signaling pathways. Four truncation mutants within the TNF-like domain of RANKL [(aa160-302), (aa160-268), (aa239-318) and (aa246-318)] were generated to investigate their potential binding to RANK and the activation to RANK-signal transduction pathways. All were found to differentially impair osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption as compared to the wild-type RANKL. The impaired function of the truncation mutants of RANKL on osteoclast formation and function correlates with their reduced ability to activate crucial RANK signaling including NF-κB, IκBα, ERK and JNK. Further analysis revealed that the truncation mutants of RANKL exhibited differentially affinity to RANK as observed by in vitro pull-down assays. ... It is possible that Bryostatin 1 acts via upregulation of a fusion mechanism as the RANKL-induced OCLs are morphologically enlarged, exhibiting increased nuclei number expressing high level of DC-Stamp. Furthermore, Rottlerin was shown to inhibit NF-κB activity, whereas Bryostatin 1 showed the opposing effects. Both inhibitor and activator were also found to modulate other key osteoclastic signaling pathways including NFAT and total c-SRC. These findings implicate, for the first time, Protein Kinase C delta signaling pathways in the modulation of RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation and activity. Taken together, the studies presented in this thesis provide compelling molecular, biochemical and morphological evidence to suggest that: (1) RANKL mutants might potentially serve as peptide mimic to inhibit RANKL-induced signaling, osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption. (2) A cross talk mechanism between extracellular Ca2+ and RANKL exist to regulate on osteoclast survival. (3) TPA suppressed RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis predominantly during the early stage of osteoclast differentiation via modulation of NF-κB. (4) Selective inhibition of Protein Kinase C signaling pathways involved in osteoclastogenesis might be a potential treatment method for osteoclast-related bone diseases. (5) Protein Kinase C delta signaling pathways play a key role in regulating osteoclast formation and function.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2007


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