Profiling insulin like factor 3 (INSL3) signaling in human osteoblasts
A. Ferlin, L. Perilli, L. Gianesello, G. Taglialavoro & C. Foresta
Insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3) is a testis-specific, Leydig cell derived hormone, which we recently demonstrated to play a role in bone metabolism. Young men with mutations in the gene for the INSL3 receptor (Relaxin family peptide 2, RXFP2) are at risk of reduced bone mass and osteoporosis. Consistent with the human phenotype, bone analyses of Rxfp2−/− mice showed decreased bone volume, alterations of the trabecular bone, reduced mineralizing surface, bone formation, and osteoclast surface. The aim of this study was to elucidate the INSL3/RXFP2 signaling pathways and targets in human osteoblasts, by studying the effects of INSL3 on different molecular, cellular, and genetic mechanisms.
We analyzed the effects on alkaline phosphatase (ALP) production, protein phosphorylation, intracellular calcium, gene expression, and mineralization. INSL3 induced a significant increase in ALP production, and Western blot and ELISA analyses of multiple intracellular signaling pathway molecules and their phosphorylation status revealed that the MAPK was the major pathway influenced by INSL3, whereas it does not modify intracellular calcium concentration. Quantitative Real Time PCR and western blotting showed that INSL3 regulates the expression of different osteoblast markers. Alizarin red-S staining confirmed that INSL3-stimulated osteoblasts are fully differentiated and able to mineralize the extracellular matrix.
Together with previous findings, this study demonstrates that INSL3 is involved in bone metabolism by acting on the MAPK cascade and stimulating transcription of important genes of osteoblast maturation/differentiation, matrix deposition and osteoclastogenesis, and it stimulates mineralization.
Declaration of interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research project.
Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sector.