Bone metabolism: The role of STAT3 and reactive oxygen species

America Bethanne Newnum, Purdue University


Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription 3 (STAT3), a transcription factor expressed in many cell types, including osteoblasts and osteoclasts, is emerging as a key regulator of bone mass and strength. STAT3 mutations cause a rare human immunodeficiency disease characterized by extremely elevated levels of IgE in serum that have associated craniofacial and skeletal features, such as reduced bone mineral density and recurrent pathological fractures. Our microarray data and immunohistochemical staining using a normal rat model have shown that STAT3 mRNA and protein levels markedly increase in response to mechanical loading. In addition, as indicated by STAT3 phosphorylation in MC3T3-E1 osteoblastic cells, STAT3 activity significantly increases in response to 30 to 90 minutes fluid shear stress. In order to further study the role that STAT3 plays in bone responsiveness to loading, tissue-selective STAT3 knockout (KO) mice, in which inactivation of STAT3 occurs in osteoblasts, were generated by breeding the transgenic mice in which Cre recombinase cDNA was cloned downstream of a 3.6 or 2.3 kb fragment of the rat Col1a1 promoter (Col3.6-Cre and Col2.3-Cre, respectively) with a strain of floxed mice in which the two loxP sites flank exons 18-20 of the STAT3 gene were used. Mice engineered with bone selective inactivation of STAT3 in osteoblasts exhibited significantly lower bone mineral density (7-12%, p<0.05) and reduced ultimate force (21-34%, p<0.01) compared to their age-matched littermate controls. The right ulnae of 16-week-old bone specific STAT3 KO mice and the age-matched control mice were loaded with peak forces of 2.5 N and 2.75 N for female and male mice, respectively, at 2 Hz, 120 cycles/day for 3 consecutive days. Mice with inactivation of STAT3 specific in bone were significantly less responsive to mechanical loading than the control mice as indicated by decreased relative mineralizing surface (rMS/BS, 47-59%, p<0.05) and relative bone formation rate (rBFR/BS, 64-75%, p<0.001). Bone responsiveness was equally decreased in mice in which STAT3 is inactivated either in early osteoblasts (Col3.6-Cre) or in mature osteoblasts (Col2.3-Cre). Accumulating evidence indicates that bone metabolism is significantly affected by activities in mitochondria. For instance, although STAT3 is reported to be involved in bone formation and resorption through regulation of nuclear genes, inactivation of STAT3 is shown to disrupt mitochondrial activities and result in an increased level of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Inactivation of STAT3 suppressed load-driven mitochondrial activity, which led to an elevated level of ROS in cultured primary osteoblasts. Oxidative stress induced by administration of buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) significantly inhibits load-induced bone formation in wild type mice. Taken together, the results support the notion that the loss-of-function mutation of STAT3 in osteoblasts and osteocytes diminishes load-driven bone formation and impairs the regulation of oxidative stress in mitochondria.




Li, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Biology|Molecular biology

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