The transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) plays a central role in cell survival and function. STAT3 has been demonstrated to participate in the maintenance of bone homeostasis in osteoblasts, but its role in osteoclasts in vivo remains poorly defined. Here, we generated a conditional knockout mouse model in which Stat3 was deleted in osteoclasts using a cathepsin K-Cre (Ctsk-Cre) driver. We observed that osteoclast-specific Stat3 deficiency caused increased bone mass in mice, which we attributed to impaired bone catabolism by osteoclasts. Stat3-deficient bone marrow macrophages (BMMs) showed decreased expression of nuclear factor of activated T cells, cytoplasm 1 (NFATc1), and reduced osteoclast differentiation determined by decreases in osteoclast number, tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase activity, and expression of osteoclast marker genes. Enforced expression of NFATc1 in Stat3-deficient BMMs rescued the impaired osteoclast differentiation. Mechanistically, we revealed that STAT3 could drive the transcription of NFATc1 by binding to its promoter. Furthermore, preventing STAT3 activation by using an inhibitor of upstream phosphorylases, AG490, also impaired osteoclast differentiation and formation in a similar way as gene deletion of Stat3 In summary, our data provide the first evidence that STAT3 is significant in osteoclast differentiation and bone homeostasis in vivo, and it may be identified as a potential pharmacological target for the treatment of bone metabolic diseases through regulation of osteoclast activity.
Keywords: NFAT transcription factor; STAT3; bone; osteoclast; osteoporosis; transgenic mice.
© 2019 Yang et al.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest with the contents of this article
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