Twist1- and Twist2-haploinsufficiency results in reduced bone formation.
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BACKGROUND: Twist1 and Twist2 are highly homologous bHLH transcription factors that exhibit extensive highly overlapping expression profiles during development. While both proteins have been shown to inhibit osteogenesis, only Twist1 haploinsufficiency is associated with the premature synostosis of cranial sutures in mice and humans. On the other hand, biallelic Twist2 deficiency causes only a focal facial dermal dysplasia syndrome or additional cachexia and perinatal lethality in certain mouse strains. It is unclear how these proteins cooperate to synergistically regulate bone formation. METHODS: Twist1 floxed mice (Twist1(f/f)) were bred with Twist2-Cre knock-in mice (Twist2(Cre/+)) to generate Twist1 and Twist2 haploinsufficient mice (Twist1(f/+); Twist2(Cre/+)). X-radiography, micro-CT scans, alcian blue/alizarin red staining, trap staining, BrdU labeling, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridizations, real-time PCR and dual luciferase assay were employed to investigate the overall skeletal defects and the bone-associated molecular and cellular changes of Twist1(f/+);Twist2(Cre/+) mice. RESULTS: Twist1 and Twist2 haploinsufficient mice did not present with premature ossification and craniosynostosis; instead they displayed reduced bone formation, impaired proliferation and differentiation of osteoprogenitors. These mice exhibited decreased expressions of Fgf2 and Fgfr1-4 in bone, resulting in a down-regulation of FGF signaling. Furthermore, in vitro studies indicated that both Twist1 and Twist2 stimulated 4.9 kb Fgfr2 promoter activity in the presence of E12, a Twist binding partner. CONCLUSION: These data demonstrated that Twist1- and Twist2-haploinsufficiency caused reduced bone formation due to compromised FGF signaling.