Characterization of bone morphogenetic protein-6 signaling pathways in osteoblast differentiation

T Ebisawa, K Tada, I Kitajima, K Tojo, T K Sampath, M Kawabata, K Miyazono, T Imamura
Journal of Cell Science 1999, 112: 3519-27
Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-6 is a member of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-(&bgr;) superfamily, and is most similar to BMP-5, osteogenic protein (OP)-1/BMP-7, and OP-2/BMP-8. In the present study, we characterized the endogenous BMP-6 signaling pathway during osteoblast differentiation. BMP-6 strongly induced alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity in cells of osteoblast lineage, including C2C12 cells, MC3T3-E1 cells, and ROB-C26 cells. The profile of binding of BMP-6 to type I and type II receptors was similar to that of OP-1/BMP-7 in C2C12 cells and MC3T3-E1 cells; BMP-6 strongly bound to activin receptor-like kinase (ALK)-2 (also termed ActR-I), together with type II receptors, i.e. BMP type II receptor (BMPR-II) and activin type II receptor (ActR-II). In addition, BMP-6 weakly bound to BMPR-IA (ALK-3), to which BMP-2 also bound. In contrast, binding of BMP-6 to BMPR-IB (ALK-6), and less efficiently to ALK-2 and BMPR-IA, together with BMPR-II was detected in ROB-C26 cells. Intracellular signalling was further studied using C2C12 and MC3T3-E1 cells. Among the receptor-regulated Smads activated by BMP receptors, BMP-6 strongly induced phosphorylation and nuclear accumulation of Smad5, and less efficiently those of Smad1. However, Smad8 was constitutively phosphorylated, and no further phosphorylation or nuclear accumulation of Smad8 by BMP-6 was observed. These findings indicate that in the process of differentiation to osteoblasts, BMP-6 binds to ALK-2 as well as other type I receptors, and transduces signals mainly through Smad5 and possibly through Smad1.

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