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Endocrinology. 2008 Aug;149(8):3890-9. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0140. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Notch inhibits osteoblast differentiation and causes osteopenia.

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  • 1Department of Research, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, 114 Woodland Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06105-1299, USA.


Notch receptors are determinants of cell fate decisions. To define the role of Notch in the adult skeleton, we created transgenic mice overexpressing the Notch intracellular domain (NICD) under the control of the type I collagen promoter. First-generation transgenics were small and osteopenic. Bone histomorphometry revealed that NICD caused a decrease in bone volume, secondary to a reduction in trabecular number; osteoblast and osteoclast number were decreased. Low fertility of founder mice and lethality of young pups did not allow the complete establishment of transgenic lines. To characterize the effect of Notch overexpression in vitro, NICD was induced in osteoblasts and stromal cells from Rosa(notch) mice, in which a STOP cassette flanked by lox(P) sites is upstream of NICD, by transduction with an adenoviral vector expressing Cre recombinase (Cre) under the control of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter (Ad-CMV-Cre). NICD impaired osteoblastogenesis and inhibited Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. To determine the effects of notch1 deletion in vivo, mice in which notch1 was flanked by lox(P) sequences (notch1(loxP/loxP)) were mated with mice expressing Cre recombinase under the control of the osteocalcin promoter. Conditional null notch1 mice had no obvious skeletal phenotype, possibly because of rescue by notch2; however, 1-month-old females exhibited a modest increase in osteoclast surface and eroded surface. Osteoblasts from notch1(loxP/loxP) mice, transduced with Ad-CMV-Cre and transfected with Notch2 small interfering RNA, displayed increased alkaline phosphatase activity. In conclusion, Notch signaling in osteoblasts causes osteopenia and impairs osteo-blastogenesis by inhibiting the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway.

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