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J Cell Sci. 2012 Apr 15;125(Pt 8):1945-57. doi: 10.1242/jcs.095893. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Disruption of Kif3a in osteoblasts results in defective bone formation and osteopenia.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN 38165, USA.


We investigated whether Kif3a in osteoblasts has a direct role in regulating postnatal bone formation. We conditionally deleted Kif3a in osteoblasts by crossing osteocalcin (Oc; also known as Bglap)-Cre with Kif3a(flox/null) mice. Conditional Kif3a-null mice (Kif3a(Oc-cKO)) had a 75% reduction in Kif3a transcripts in bone and osteoblasts. Conditional deletion of Kif3a resulted in the reduction of primary cilia number by 51% and length by 27% in osteoblasts. Kif3a(Oc-cKO) mice developed osteopenia by 6 weeks of age unlike Kif3a(flox/+) control mice, as evidenced by reductions in femoral bone mineral density (22%), trabecular bone volume (42%) and cortical thickness (17%). By contrast, Oc-Cre;Kif3a(flox/+) and Kif3a(flox/null) heterozygous mice exhibited no skeletal abnormalities. Loss of bone mass in Kif3a(Oc-cKO) mice was associated with impaired osteoblast function in vivo, as reflected by a 54% reduction in mineral apposition rate and decreased expression of Runx2, osterix (also known as Sp7 transcription factor 7; Sp7), osteocalcin and Dmp1 compared with controls. Immortalized osteoblasts from Kif3a(Oc-cKO) mice exhibited increased cell proliferation, impaired osteoblastic differentiation, and enhanced adipogenesis in vitro. Osteoblasts derived from Kif3a(Oc-cKO) mice also had lower basal cytosolic calcium levels and impaired intracellular calcium responses to fluid flow shear stress. Sonic hedgehog-mediated Gli2 expression and Wnt3a-mediated β-catenin and Axin2 expression were also attenuated in Kif3a(Oc-cKO) bone and osteoblast cultures. These data indicate that selective deletion of Kif3a in osteoblasts disrupts primary cilia formation and/or function and impairs osteoblast-mediated bone formation through multiple pathways including intracellular calcium, hedgehog and Wnt signaling.

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