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J Cell Sci. 1993 Apr;104 ( Pt 4):1013-20.

Expression of osteopontin mRNA by osteoclasts and osteoblasts in modelling adult human bone.

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  • 1Bath Institute for Rheumatic Diseases, UK.


Over recent years several non-collagenous matrix proteins of bone have been isolated and characterized. One of these proteins, osteopontin, has been shown to be synthesized by osteoblasts and deposited in the bone matrix where it is thought to bind to hydroxyapatite. However much of the functional evidence is circumstantial, and the precise function of osteopontin has not been fully elucidated. We have used in situ hybridization techniques to investigate the expression of osteopontin mRNA in a variety of human bone tissues. Cryostat sections of human osteophyte and osteoclastoma tissue were hybridized with an antisense RNA probe for osteopontin. Sense transcripts were used as a negative control to assess non-specific binding. There was a very distinct pattern of osteopontin mRNA expression in these tissues. Plump osteoblasts adjacent to the osteoid matrix expressed high levels of osteopontin mRNA, whilst flattened osteoblasts demonstrated weaker expression. The most striking feature of osteopontin mRNA expression was the high levels detected in osteoclasts. Osteoclasts in resorption lacunae and those distant from resorption sites both expressed osteopontin mRNA, suggesting that attachment was not a prerequisite for osteopontin expression. A population of mononuclear cells in resorption lacunae was also observed to express high levels of osteopontin mRNA. The whole population of osteoclasts in the osteoclastoma tissue expressed high levels of osteopontin mRNA, indicating that expression is not restricted to osteoclasts involved in bone resorption. This study confirms that human osteoblasts are capable of synthesizing osteopontin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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