Loss of p53 in mesenchymal stem cells promotes alteration of bone remodeling through negative regulation of osteoprotegerin

Tania Velletri, Yin Huang, Yu Wang, Qing Li, Mingyuan Hu, Ningxia Xie, Qian Yang, Xiaodong Chen, Qing Chen, Peishun Shou, Yurun Gan, Eleonora Candi, Annicchiarico Petruzzelli Margherita, Massimiliano Agostini, Huilin Yang, Gerry Melino, Yufang Shi, Ying Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


p53 plays a pivotal role in controlling the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) by regulating genes involved in cell cycle and early steps of differentiation process. In the context of osteogenic differentiation of MSCs and bone homeostasis, the osteoprotegerin/receptor activator of NF-κB ligand/receptor activator of NF-κB (OPG/RANKL/RANK) axis is a critical signaling pathway. The absence or loss of function of p53 has been implicated in aberrant osteogenic differentiation of MSCs that results in higher bone formation versus erosion, leading to an unbalanced bone remodeling. Here, we show by microCT that mice with p53 deletion systemically or specifically in mesenchymal cells possess significantly higher bone density than their respective littermate controls. There is a negative correlation between p53 and OPG both in vivo by analysis of serum from p53+/+, p53+/−, and p53−/− mice and in vitro by p53 knockdown and ChIP assay in MSCs. Notably, high expression of Opg or its combination with low level of p53 are prominent features in clinical cancer lesion of osteosarcoma and prostate cancer respectively, which correlate with poor survival. Intra-bone marrow injection of prostate cancer cells, together with androgen can suppress p53 expression and enhance local Opg expression, leading to an enhancement of bone density. Our results support the notion that MSCs, as osteoblast progenitor cells and one major component of bone microenvironment, represent a cellular source of OPG, whose amount is regulated by the p53 status. It also highlights a key role for the p53-OPG axis in regulating the cancer associated bone remodeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-169
Number of pages14
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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