Clathrin-dependent endocytosis of membrane-bound RANKL in differentiated osteoclasts

Eur J Histochem. 2010 Mar 8;54(1):e6. doi: 10.4081/ejh.2010.e6.


Bone is continuously repaired and remodelled through well-coordinated activity of osteoblasts that form new bone and osteoclasts, which resorb it. Osteoblasts synthesize and secrete two key molecules that are important for osteoclast differentiation, namely the ligand for the receptor of activator of nuclear factor kappaB (RANKL) and its decoy receptor osteoprotegerin (OPG). Active membrane transport is a typical feature of the resorbing osteoclast during bone resorption. Normally, one resorption cycle takes several hours as observed by monitoring actin ring formation and consequent disappearance in vitro. During these cyclic changes, the cytoskeleton undergoes remarkable dynamic rearrangement. Active cells show a continuous process of exocytosis that plays an essential role in transport of membrane components, soluble molecules and receptor-mediated ligands thus allowing them to communicate with the environment. The processes that govern intracellular transport and trafficking in mature osteoclasts are poorly known. The principal methodological problem that have made these studies difficult is a physiological culture of osteoclasts that permit observing the vesicle apparatus in conditions similar to the in vivo conditions. In the present study we have used a number of morphological approaches to characterize the composition, formation and the endocytic and biosynthetic pathways that play roles in dynamics of differentiation of mature bone resorbing cells using a tri-dimensional system of physiologic coculture.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clathrin / metabolism*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Immunoblotting
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism*
  • RANK Ligand / metabolism*


  • Clathrin
  • RANK Ligand