RANKL induces NFATc1, a key transcriptional factor to induce osteoclast-specific genes such as cathepsin K, whereas transcriptional control of osteoclast survival is not fully understood. Leukemia/lymphoma-related factor (LRF) in mouse and osteoclast zinc finger protein (OCZF) in rat are zinc finger and BTB domain-containing protein (zBTB) family of transcriptional regulators, and are critical regulators of hematopoiesis. We have previously shown that differentiation and survival were enhanced in osteoclasts from OCZF-Transgenic (Tg) mice. In the present study, we show a possible mechanism of osteoclast survival regulated by LRF/OCZF and the role of OCZF overexpression in pathological bone loss. In the in vitro cultures, LRF was highly colocalized with NFATc1 in cells of early stage in osteoclastogenesis, but only LRF expression persisted after differentiation into mature osteoclasts. LRF expression was further enhanced in resorbing osteoclasts formed on dentin slices. Osteoclast survival inhibitor such as alendronate, a bisphosphonate reduced LRF expression. Micro CT evaluation revealed that femurs of OCZF-Tg mice showed significantly lower bone volume compared to that of WT mice. Furthermore, OCZF overexpression markedly promoted bone loss in ovariectomy-induced osteolytic mouse model. The expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-xl mRNA, which is formed by alternative splicing, was enhanced in the cultures in which osteoclasts are formed from OCZF-Tg mice. In contrast, the expression of pro-apoptotic Bcl-xs mRNA was lost in the culture derived from OCZF-Tg mice. We found that the expression levels of RNA binding splicing regulator, Src substrate associated in mitosis of 68 kDa (Sam68) protein were markedly decreased in OCZF-Tg mice-derived osteoclasts. In addition, shRNA-mediated knockdown of Sam68 expression increased the expression of Bcl-xl mRNA, suggesting that SAM68 regulates the expression of Bcl-xl. These results indicate that OCZF overexpression reduces protein levels of Sam68, thereby promotes osteoclast survival, and suggest that LRF/OCZF is a promising target for regulating pathological bone loss.
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