A mutation in the ZNF687 gene that is responsible for the severe form of Paget's disease of bone causes severely altered bone remodeling and promotes hepatocellular carcinoma onset in a knock-in mouse model

Bone Res. 2023 Mar 14;11(1):16. doi: 10.1038/s41413-023-00250-3.


Paget's disease (PDB) is a late-onset bone remodeling disorder with a broad spectrum of symptoms and complications. One of the most aggressive forms is caused by the P937R mutation in the ZNF687 gene. Although the genetic involvement of ZNF687 in PDB has been extensively studied, the molecular mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear. Here, we describe the first Zfp687 knock-in mouse model and demonstrate that the mutation recapitulates the PDB phenotype, resulting in severely altered bone remodeling. Through microcomputed tomography analysis, we observed that 8-month-old mutant mice showed a mainly osteolytic phase, with a significant decrease in the trabecular bone volume affecting the femurs and the vertebrae. Conversely, osteoblast activity was deregulated, producing disorganized bone. Notably, this phenotype became pervasive in 16-month-old mice, where osteoblast function overtook bone resorption, as highlighted by the presence of woven bone in histological analyses, consistent with the PDB phenotype. Furthermore, we detected osteophytes and intervertebral disc degeneration, outlining for the first time the link between osteoarthritis and PDB in a PDB mouse model. RNA sequencing of wild-type and Zfp687 knockout RAW264.7 cells identified a set of genes involved in osteoclastogenesis potentially regulated by Zfp687, e.g., Tspan7, Cpe, Vegfc, and Ggt1, confirming its role in this process. Strikingly, in this mouse model, the mutation was also associated with a high penetrance of hepatocellular carcinomas. Thus, this study established an essential role of Zfp687 in the regulation of bone remodeling, offering the potential to therapeutically treat PDB, and underlines the oncogenic potential of ZNF687.