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J Pathol. 2007 Apr;211(5):555-62.

Human osteosarcoma cells express functional receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B.

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INSERM, ERI 7, Nantes F-44035, France.


RANK, RANK ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) are the key regulators of bone metabolism, both in normal and pathological conditions. Previous data have demonstrated that human osteosarcoma biopsies express RANKL as well as OPG, and functional RANK is expressed in a murine osteosarcoma cell line. As RANK expression in human osteosarcoma remains controversial, the aim of the present study was to analyse its expression in vitro in human osteosarcoma cell lines, ex vivo using pathological tissues, and then to determine its functionality in terms of signal transduction pathways modulated by RANKL. RT-PCR analysis and immunohistochemistry experiments revealed that RANK is expressed at both transcriptional and protein levels in MNNG/HOS, Saos-2 and MG-63 human osteosarcoma cell lines, in contrast to the U-2 OS osteosarcoma cell line and human osteoblasts, which were negative. RANK was also expressed in 57% of osteosarcoma biopsies. Furthermore, western blot experiments clearly demonstrated the functionality of RANK. Thus, RANKL significantly induced the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p38 and IkappaB in RANK-positive osteosarcoma cells. This study is the first report of functional RANK expression in human osteosarcoma cells: this strengthens the involvement of the RANK-RANKL-OPG axis in primary bone tumour biology and identifies novel therapeutic approaches targeting RANK-positive osteosarcoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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