Mechanical stimulation is a key regulator of bone mass, maintenance, and turnover. Wnt signaling is a key regulator of mechanotransduction in bone, but the role of β-catenin—an intracellular signaling node in the canonical Wnt pathway—in disuse mechanotransduction is not defined. Using the β-catenin exon 3 flox (constitutively active [CA]) mouse model, in conjunction with a tamoxifen-inducible, osteocyte-selective Cre driver, we evaluated the effects of degradation-resistant β-catenin on bone properties during disuse. We hypothesized that if β-catenin plays an important role in Wnt-mediated osteoprotection, then artificial stabilization of β-catenin in osteocytes would protect the limbs from disuse-induced bone wasting. Two disuse models were tested: tail suspension, which models fluid shift, and botulinum-toxin (botox)-induced muscle paralysis, which models loss of muscle force. Tail suspension was associated with a significant loss of tibial bone mass and density, reduced architectural properties, and decreased bone formation indices in uninduced (control) mice, as assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), micro-computed tomography (µCT), and histomorphometry. Activation of the βcatCA allele in tail-suspended mice resulted in little to no change in those properties; ie, these mice were protected from bone loss. Similar protective effects were observed among botox-treated mice when the βcatCA was activated. RNAseq analysis of altered gene regulation in tail-suspended mice yielded 35 genes, including Wnt11, Gli1, Nell1, Gdf5, and Pgf, which were significantly differentially regulated between tail-suspended β-catenin stabilized mice and tail-suspended nonstabilized mice. Our findings indicate that selectively targeting/blocking of β-catenin degradation in bone cells could have therapeutic implications in mechanically induced bone disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine