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J Bone Miner Res. 1997 Mar;12(3):393-402.

A distinct cation-sensing mechanism in MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts functionally related to the calcium receptor.

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


The presence of a cation-sensing mechanism in osteoblasts is suggested by the ability of specific cations to stimulate osteoblastic proliferation in culture and to induce de novo bone formation in some experimental models. Our study examines whether extracellular cations stimulate osteoblasts through the recently identified G protein-coupled calcium receptor (CaR). We found that CaR agonists, calcium (Ca2+), gadolinium (Gd3+), aluminum (Al3+), and neomycin, stimulated DNA synthesis in murine-derived MC3T3-E1 preosteoblasts, whereas magnesium (Mg2+), nickel (Ni2+), cadmium (Cd2+), and zinc (Zn2+) had no effect. With the exception of Mg2+, the cation specificities and apparent affinities were similar to that reported for CaR. CaR agonists also stimulated DNA synthesis in C3HT10(1/2) fibroblasts, but not in mesangial PVG, CHO, hepatic HTC, COS-7 cells, or malignant transformed ROS17/2.8 and UMR-106 osteoblasts. In addition, similar to other growth factors, CaR agonists activated transcription of a serum response element luciferase reporter construct (SRE-Luc) stably transfected into MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts, but had no effect on SRE-Luc transfected into CHO and COS-7 cells. We were unable to detect CaR expression by Northern analysis using a mouse CaR-specific probe or to amplify CaR mRNA by reverse transcribed polymerase chain reaction in MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts. These findings suggest that an extra-cellular cation-sensing mechanism is present in murine-derived osteoblasts that is functionally similar to but molecularly distinct from CaR.

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