The signaling mechanisms responsible for bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) induced osteoblast differentiation remains poorly understood. Previous research demonstrated that Smad proteins are the substrates and the mediators of BMP bound serine/threonine receptor kinase. In the present study, we examined the possible involvement of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk) in the BMP induced osteoblast differentiation of mesenchymal progenitor cell C3H10T1/2. Our results indicate that BMP-2 inducement increased MAP kinase activity in mesenchymal progenitor cell line C3H10T1/2. Contrary to previous reports, this increased MAP kinase activity showed a latent but sustained pattern. Elevation of Erk1 and Erk2 protein levels was observed simultaneously. RT-PCR results demonstrated that the elevation of Erk protein level in BMP-2 induced cells was from the upregulation of mRNA expression. Furthermore, upregulated Erk proteins present enhanced phosphorylation. By using a dominant-negative Erk2 cell line, we demonstrated that nonfunctional Erk2 partially eliminated BMP-2 induced cell proliferation and ALP activity in the C3H10T1/2 cell. These results indicate that Erk is involved in BMP-2 induced osteoblast differentiation. The results also demonstrate that a latent and sustained signaling pattern exists in BMP induced signaling cascade.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.