Cbfβ governs osteoblast−adipocyte lineage commitment through enhancing β-catenin signaling and suppressing adipogenesis gene expression

Authors: Mengrui Wu, Yiping Wang, Jian-Zhong Shao, Jue Wang, Wei Chen, Yi-Ping Li


The mechanism underlying how transcription factors regulate mesenchymal stem cell lineage commitment remains unclear. To determine the role of core-binding factor subunit beta (Cbfβ) in osteoblast lineage commitment, we generated three mouse models by deleting Cbfβ at different osteoblast lineage stages. We demonstrated that the Cbfβf/fPrx1-Cre, Cbfβf/fCol2α1-Cre, and Cbfβf/fOsx-Cre mice exhibited severe osteoporosis with substantial accumulation of marrow adipocytes resembling aged bone from enhanced adipogenesis, indicating that mesenchymal stem cells and osteoblasts can be programed and reprogramed, respectively, into adipocytes. Consistently, Cbfβ-deficient calvarial cells and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells displayed strong adipogenic potential, with 5- to ∼70-fold increased adipocyte gene expression, which can be rescued by Cbfβ overexpression. Canonical Wnt signaling was impeded in the Cbfβ-deficient cells, with ∼80% decrease of Wnt10b expression. Accordingly, ChIP and luciferase assays demonstrated that Cbfβ/RUNX2 binds to Wnt10b promoter driving Wnt10b expression. Furthermore, Wnt3a suppressed adipogenesis but did not rescue osteoblastogenesis in Cbfβ-deficient cells. Notably, mixing culture of Cbfβ-deficient with normal cells demonstrates that Cbfβ functions not only through WNT paracrine pathway but also through endogenous signaling. Further analysis shows that Cbfβ/RUNX2 inhibits c/ebpα expression at transcriptional level. Our results show that, besides its osteogenic role, Cbfβ governs osteoblast−adipocyte lineage commitment both cell nonautonomously through enhancing β-catenin signaling and cell autonomously through suppressing adipogenesis gene expression to maintain osteoblast lineage commitment, indicating Cbfβ may be a therapeutic target for osteoporosis.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 114 (38): 10119