Myostatin inhibits osteoblastic differentiation by suppressing osteocyte-derived exosomal microRNA-218: A novel mechanism in muscle-bone communication

Yiwen Qin, Yuanzhen Peng, Wei Zhao, Jianping Pan, Hanna Ksiezak-Reding, Christopher Cardozo, Yingjie Wu, Paola Divieti Pajevic, Lynda F. Bonewald, William A. Bauman, Weiping Qin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


Muscle and bone are closely associated in both anatomy and function, but the mechanisms that coordinate their synergistic action remain poorly defined. Myostatin, a myokine secreted by muscles, has been shown to inhibit muscle growth, and the disruption of the myostatin gene has been reported to cause muscle hypertrophy and increase bone mass. Extracellular vesicle-exosomes that carry microRNA (miRNA), mRNA, and proteins are known to perform an important role in cell-cell communication. We hypothesized that myostatin may play a crucial role in muscle- bone interactions and may promote direct effects on osteocytes and on osteocyte-derived exosomal miRNAs, thereby indirectly influencing the function of other bone cells. We report herein that myostatin promotes expression of several bone regulators such as sclerostin (SOST), DKK1, and RANKL in cultured osteocytic (Ocy454) cells, concomitant with the suppression of miR-218 in both parent Ocy454 cells and derived exosomes. Exosomes produced by Ocy454 cells that had been pretreated with myostatin could be taken up by osteoblastic MC3T3 cells, resulting in a marked reduction of Runx2, a key regulator of osteoblastic differentiation, and in decreased osteoblastic differentiation via the down-regulation of the Wnt signaling pathway. Importantly, the inhibitory effect of myostatin-modified osteocytic exosomes on osteoblast differentiation is completely reversed by expression of exogenous miR-218, through a mechanism involving miR-218-mediated inhibition of SOST. Together, our findings indicate that myostatin directly influences osteocyte function and thereby inhibits osteoblastic differentiation, at least in part, through the suppression of osteocyte-derived exosomal miR-218, suggesting a novel mechanism in muscle-bone communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11021-11033
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 30 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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