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J Biol Chem. 2007 May 25;282(21):15872-83. Epub 2007 Mar 23.

Pyrophosphate inhibits mineralization of osteoblast cultures by binding to mineral, up-regulating osteopontin, and inhibiting alkaline phosphatase activity.

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Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B2, Canada.


Inorganic pyrophosphate (PP(i)) produced by cells inhibits mineralization by binding to crystals. Its ubiquitous presence is thought to prevent "soft" tissues from mineralizing, whereas its degradation to P(i) in bones and teeth by tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (Tnap, Tnsalp, Alpl, Akp2) may facilitate crystal growth. Whereas the crystal binding properties of PP(i) are largely understood, less is known about its effects on osteoblast activity. We have used MC3T3-E1 osteoblast cultures to investigate the effect of PP(i) on osteoblast function and matrix mineralization. Mineralization in the cultures was dose-dependently inhibited by PP(i). This inhibition could be reversed by Tnap, but not if PP(i) was bound to mineral. PP(i) also led to increased levels of osteopontin (Opn) induced via the Erk1/2 and p38 MAPK signaling pathways. Opn regulation by PP(i) was also insensitive to foscarnet (an inhibitor of phosphate uptake) and levamisole (an inhibitor of Tnap enzymatic activity), suggesting that increased Opn levels did not result from changes in phosphate. Exogenous OPN inhibited mineralization, but dephosphorylation by Tnap reversed this effect, suggesting that OPN inhibits mineralization via its negatively charged phosphate residues and that like PP(i), hydrolysis by Tnap reduces its mineral inhibiting potency. Using enzyme kinetic studies, we have shown that PP(i) inhibits Tnap-mediated P(i) release from beta-glycerophosphate (a commonly used source of organic phosphate for culture mineralization studies) through a mixed type of inhibition. In summary, PP(i) prevents mineralization in MC3T3-E1 osteoblast cultures by at least three different mechanisms that include direct binding to growing crystals, induction of Opn expression, and inhibition of Tnap activity.

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