Characterization of calcium signaling mechanisms in osteoblasts

Joseph Gary Meszaros, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Bone remodeling is controlled by the osteoclast, which resorbs bone, and the osteoblast, which synthesizes and secretes proteins that are eventually mineralized into bone. Ca$\sp{2+}$ homeostasis and signaling contribute to the function of nearly all cell types, and understanding both in the osteoblast is of importance given its secretory properties and interaction with osteoclasts. This study was undertaken to identify and investigate the physiology of the Ca$\sp{2+}$ signaling mechanisms present in osteoblasts. The Ca$\sp{2+}$ pumps, stores and channels present in osteoblasts were studied. RT-PCR cloning revealed that osteoblast-like cells express PMCA1b, an alternatively spliced transcript of the plasma membrane Ca$\sp{2+}$-ATPase. The PMCA1b isoform contains a consensus phosphorylation site for cAMP-dependent protein kinase A and a modified calmodulin binding domain. The regulation of osteoblast function by agents that act via cAMP-mediated pathways may involve alterations in the activity of the plasma membrane Ca$\sp{2+}$-ATPase. Calcium release from intracellular stores is a signaling mechanism used universally by cells responding to hormones and growth factors, and the compartmentalization and regulated release of calcium is cell-type specific. Fura-2 was employed to monitor intracellular Ca$\sp{2+}$. Thapsigargin and 2,5,-di-(tert-butyl)-1,4-benzohydroquinone (tBuHQ), two inhibitors of endoplasmic reticulum Ca$\sp{2+}$-ATPase activity, both emptied a single intracellular calcium pool which was released in response to either ATP or thrombin, identifying it as the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-sensitive calcium store. The Ca$\sp{2+}$ storage system present in osteoblasts is typical of a non-excitable cell type, despite these cells sharing characteristics of excitable cells such as voltage-sensitive Ca$\sp{2+}$ channels (VSCCs). VSCCs are important cell surface regulators of membrane permeability to Ca$\sp{2+}$. In non-excitable cells VSCCs act as cellular transducers of stimulus-secretion coupling, activators of intracellular proteins, and in control of cell growth and differentiation. Functional VSCCs have been shown to exist in osteoblasts, however, no molecular cloning has been reported. To obtain information concerning the molecular identity of the osteoblastic VSCC, we used an RT-PCR regional amplification approach. Sequencing of the products indicated that osteoblasts express at least two isoforms of the L-type VSCC, $\alpha 1\sb{\rm C-a}$ and the $\alpha 1\sb{\rm C-d}$, which share regions of identity to the $\alpha \sb{\rm 1C}$ isoform first identified in cardiac myocytes. The ability of $1,25(\rm OH)\sb2D\sb3$ and structural analogs to modulate expression of Ca$\sp{2+}$ channel mRNA was then investigated. Cells were cultured for 48 hr in the presence of $1,25(\rm OH)\sb2D\sb3$ or vitamin D analogs, and the levels of mRNA encoding VSCC $\alpha \sb{\rm 1C}$ were quantitated using a competitive RT-PCR assay. It was found that $1,25(\rm OH)\sb2D\sb3$ and analog BT reduced steady state levels of $\alpha \sb{\rm 1C}$ mRNA. Conversely, analog AT did not alter steady state levels of Ca$\sp{2+}$ channel mRNA. Since it has been shown previously that analog BT, but not AT, binds and activates the nuclear vitamin D receptor, these findings suggest that the down regulation of channel mRNA involves the nuclear receptor for $1,25(\rm OH)\sb2D\sb3$.

Subject Area

Anatomy & physiology|Animals|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Meszaros, Joseph Gary, "Characterization of calcium signaling mechanisms in osteoblasts" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9700318.