RANKL-RANK signaling in osteoclastogenesis and bone disease

Trends Mol Med. 2006 Jan;12(1):17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2005.11.007. Epub 2005 Dec 13.


Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are affected by bone-related diseases, such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of bone metabolism is crucial for developing novel drugs for treating such diseases. In particular, genetic experiments showing that the receptor activator of NF-kappaB (RANK), its ligand RANKL, and the decoy receptor OPG are essential, central regulators of osteoclast development and osteoclast function were significant turning points in our understanding of bone diseases. RANKL-RANK signaling activates a variety of downstream signaling pathways required for osteoclast development. Moreover, molecular cross-talk between RANKL-RANK and other ligand-receptor systems fine-tunes bone homeostasis in normal physiology and disease. Designing novel drugs that target RANKL-RANK and their signaling pathways in osteoclasts could potentially revolutionize the treatment of many diseases associated with bone loss such as arthritis, tooth loss, cancer metastases or osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bone Diseases / etiology
  • Bone Diseases / metabolism*
  • Bone Diseases / therapy
  • Bone Resorption / etiology
  • Bone Resorption / metabolism*
  • Bone Resorption / therapy
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism*
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Phosphatidylinositols / metabolism
  • RANK Ligand
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • Receptor Cross-Talk
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Phosphatidylinositols
  • RANK Ligand
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • TNFRSF11A protein, human
  • TNFRSF11B protein, human
  • TNFSF11 protein, human
  • src-Family Kinases