Functional redundancy of type II BMP receptor and type IIB activin receptor in BMP2-induced osteoblast differentiation

Hongbin Liu, Rongrong Zhang, Di Chen, Babatunde O Oyajobi, Ming Zhao
Journal of Cellular Physiology 2012, 227 (3): 952-63
Signaling pathways for bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are important in osteoblast differentiation. Although the precise function of type I BMP receptors in mediating BMP signaling for osteoblast differentiation and bone formation has been characterized previously, the role of type II BMP receptors in osteoblasts is to be well clarified. In this study, we investigated the role of type II BMP receptor (BMPR-II) and type IIB activin receptor (ActR-IIB) in BMP2-induced osteoblast differentiation. While osteoblastic 2T3 cells expressed BMPR-II and ActR-IIB, loss-of-function studies, using dominant negative receptors and siRNAs, showed that BMPR-II and ActR-IIB compensated each other functionally in mediating BMP2 signaling and BMP2-induced osteoblast differentiation. This was evidenced by two findings. First, unless there was loss of function of both type II receptors, isolated disruption of either BMPR-II or ActR-IIB did not remove BMP2 activity. Second, in cells with loss of function of both receptors, restoration of function of either BMPR-II or ActR-IIB by transfection of the wild-type forms, restored BMP2 activity. These findings suggest a functional redundancy between BMPR-II and ActR-IIB in osteoblast differentiation. Results from experiments to test the effects of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), activin, and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) on osteoblast proliferation and differentiation suggest that inhibition of receptor signaling by double-blockage of BMPR-II and ActR-IIB is BMP-signaling specific. The observed functional redundancy of type II BMP receptors in osteoblasts is novel information about the BMP signaling pathway essential for initiating osteoblast differentiation.

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