Biphasic and Dosage-Dependent Regulation of Osteoclastogenesis by β-Catenin Academic Article uri icon


  • Wnt/β-catenin signaling is a critical regulator of skeletal physiology. However, previous studies have mainly focused on its roles in osteoblasts, while its specific function in osteoclasts is unknown. This is a clinically important question because neutralizing antibodies against Wnt antagonists are promising new drugs for bone diseases. Here, we show that in osteoclastogenesis, β-catenin is induced during the macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF)-mediated quiescence-to-proliferation switch but suppressed during the RANKL-mediated proliferation-to-differentiation switch. Genetically, β-catenin deletion blocks osteoclast precursor proliferation, while β-catenin constitutive activation sustains proliferation but prevents osteoclast differentiation, both causing osteopetrosis. In contrast, β-catenin heterozygosity enhances osteoclast differentiation, causing osteoporosis. Biochemically, Wnt activation attenuates whereas Wnt inhibition stimulates osteoclastogenesis. Mechanistically, β-catenin activation increases GATA2/Evi1 expression but abolishes RANKL-induced c-Jun phosphorylation. Therefore, β-catenin exerts a pivotal biphasic and dosage-dependent regulation of osteoclastogenesis. Importantly, these findings suggest that Wnt activation is a more effective treatment for skeletal fragility than previously recognized that confers dual anabolic and anti-catabolic benefits.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wei, W., Zeve, D., Suh, J. M., Wang, X., Du, Y., Zerwekh, J. E., ... Wan, Y.

citation count

  • 132

publication date

  • August 2011