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Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Feb;30(4):886-96. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01285-09. Epub 2009 Dec 7.

Notch and the skeleton.

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


Notch receptors are transmembrane receptors that regulate cell fate decisions. There are four Notch receptors in mammals. Upon binding to members of the Delta and Jagged family of transmembrane proteins, Notch is cleaved and the Notch intracellular domain (NICD) is released. NICD then translocates to the nucleus, where it associates with the CBF-1, Suppressor of Hairless, and Lag-2 (CSL) and Mastermind-Like (MAML) proteins. This complex activates the transcription of Notch target genes, such as Hairy Enhancer of Split (Hes) and Hes-related with YRPF motif (Hey). Notch signaling is critical for the regulation of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. Misexpression of Notch in skeletal tissue indicates a role as an inhibitor of skeletal development and postnatal bone formation. Overexpression of Notch inhibits endochondral bone formation and osteoblastic differentiation, causing severe osteopenia. Conditional inactivation of Notch in the skeleton causes an increase in cancellous bone volume and enhanced osteoblastic differentiation. Notch ligands are expressed in the hematopoietic stem cell niche and are critical for the regulation of hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal. Dysregulation of Notch signaling is the underlying cause of diseases affecting the skeletal tissue, including Alagille syndrome, spondylocostal dysostosis, and possibly, osteosarcoma.

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