Prior studies demonstrated that deletion of the protein phosphatase Phlpp1 in Ctsk-Cre expressing cells enhances bone mass, characterized by diminished osteoclast activity and increased coupling to bone formation. Due to non-specific expression of Ctsk-Cre, the definitive mechanism for this observation was unclear. To further define the role of bone resorbing osteoclasts, we performed ovariectomy (Ovx) and Sham surgeries on Phlpp1 cKOCtsk and WT mice. Micro-CT analyses confirmed enhanced bone mass of Phlpp1 cKOCtsk Sham females. In contrast, Ovx induced bone loss in both groups, with no difference between Phlpp1 cKOCtsk and WT mice. Histomorphometry demonstrated that Ovx mice lacked differences in osteoclasts per bone surface, suggesting that estradiol (E2) is required for Phlpp1 deficiency to have an effect. We performed high throughput unbiased transcriptional profiling of Phlpp1 cKOCtsk osteoclasts and identified 290 differentially expressed genes. By cross-referencing these differentially expressed genes with all estrogen response element (ERE) containing genes, we identified IGFBP4 as potential estrogen-dependent target of Phlpp1. E2 induced PHLPP1 expression, but reduced IGFBP4 levels. Moreover, genetic deletion or chemical inhibition of Phlpp1 was correlated with IGFBP4 levels. We then assessed IGFBP4 expression by osteoclasts in vivo within intact 12-week-old females. Modest IGFBP4 immunohistochemical staining of TRAP+ osteoclasts within WT females was observed. In contrast, TRAP+ bone lining cells within intact Phlpp1 cKOCtsk females robustly expressed IGFBP4, but levels were diminished within TRAP+ bone lining cells following Ovx. These results demonstrate that effects of Phlpp1 conditional deficiency are lost following Ovx, potentially due to estrogen-dependent regulation of IGFBP4.
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