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J Biol Chem. 1997 Aug 29;272(35):22053-8.

Initiation of osteoclast bone resorption by interstitial collagenase.

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Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Osteoclasts form an acidic compartment at their attachment site in which bone demineralization and matrix degradation occur. Although both the cysteine proteinases and neutral collagenases participate in bone resorption, their roles have remained unclear. Here we show that interstitial collagenase has an essential role in initiating bone resorption, distinct from that of the cysteine proteinases. Treatment of osteoclasts with cysteine proteinase inhibitors did not affect the number of resorption lacunae ("pits") formed on the surface of dentine slices, but it generated abnormal pits that were demineralized but filled with undegraded matrix. Treatment with metalloproteinase inhibitors did not alter the qualitative features of lacunae, but it greatly reduced the number of pits and surface area resorbed. Treatment of bone cells with an inhibitory anti-rat interstitial collagenase antiserum reduced bone resorption markedly. In the presence of collagenase inhibitors, resorption was restored by pretreatment of dentine slices with rat interstitial collagenase or by precoating the dentine slices with collagenase-derived gelatin peptides or heat-gelatinized collagen. Immunostaining revealed that interstitial collagenase is produced at high levels by stromal cells and osteoblasts adjacent to osteoclasts. These results indicate that interstitial collagenase can function as a "coupling factor," allowing osteoblasts to initiate bone resorption by generating collagen fragments that activate osteoclasts.

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