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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Apr 20;101(16):6158-63. Epub 2004 Apr 8.

The immunomodulatory adapter proteins DAP12 and Fc receptor gamma-chain (FcRgamma) regulate development of functional osteoclasts through the Syk tyrosine kinase.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Osteoclasts, the only bone-resorbing cells, are central to the pathogenesis of osteoporosis, yet their development and regulation are incompletely understood. Multiple receptors of the immune system use a common signaling paradigm whereby phosphorylated immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs (ITAMs) within receptor-associated adapter proteins recruit the Syk tyrosine kinase. Here we demonstrate that a similar mechanism is required for development of functional osteoclasts. Mice lacking two ITAM-bearing adapters, DAP12 and the Fc receptor gamma-chain (FcRgamma), are severely osteopetrotic. DAP12(-/-)FcRgamma(-/-) bone marrow cells fail to differentiate into multinucleated osteoclasts or resorb bone in vitro and show impaired phosphorylation of the Syk tyrosine kinase. syk(-/-) progenitors are similarly defective in osteoclast development and bone resorption. Intact SH2-domains of Syk, introduced by retroviral transduction, are required for functional reconstitution of syk(-/-) osteoclasts, whereas intact ITAM-domains on DAP12 are required for reconstitution of DAP12(-/-) FcRgamma(-/-) cells. These data indicate that recruitment of Syk to phosphorylated ITAMs is critical for osteoclastogenesis. Although DAP12 appears to be primarily responsible for osteoclast differentiation in cultures directly stimulated with macrophage-colony stimulating factor and receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand cytokines, DAP12 and FcRgamma have overlapping roles in supporting osteoclast development in osteoblast-osteoclast cocultures, which mirrors their overlapping functions in vivo. These results provide new insight into the biology of osteoclasts and suggest novel therapeutic targets in diseases of bony remodeling.

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