To examine the possible enrolment of Na +/K +-ATPase during osteoclast differentiation, Na +/K +-ATPase inhibitors, including ouabain and vanadate, were used in this study. These inhibitors significantly inhibited cell-cell fusion of RAW264.7 cells and bone marrow cells induced by RANKL. Interestingly, in response to RANKL-stimulation, ouabain and vanadate decreased the number of large TRAP+ osteoclasts in the culture of RAW264.7 cells, as well as bone marrow cells. In contrast, the number of small TRAP+ osteoclasts either increased in RAW264.7 cells or were otherwise less affected in bone marrow cells than large TRAP+ osteoclasts. Large TRAP+ osteoclasts are defined as having ≥ 10 nuclei/cell and having more potency in bone resorption than small multinuclear osteoclasts with < 9 nuclei/cell. Na +/K +-ATPase α1 and β2 mRNAs were detected in sRANKL-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. Moreover, real-time quantitative PCR showed that ouabain and vanadate suppressed the RANKL-dependent induction of the osteoclast fusion-promotion molecule DC-STAMP at the mRNA level. Finally, and importantly, RNAi-mediated suppression of Na +/K +-ATPase α1 resulted in a diminished number of large TRAP+ osteoclasts in the sRANKL-stimulated RAW264.7 cells, along with the decreased level of DC-STAMP mRNA expression. These findings strongly suggest that blockage of the Na +/K +-ATPase α1 subunit by ouabain or vanadate caused the inhibition of RANKL-induced cell-cell fusion, resulting in the generation of large osteoclasts through suppression of DC-STAMP expression. Thus, in addition to its known function of sodium and potassium ion exchange during bone resorption by mature osteoclasts, this study has revealed a novel molecular role of the Na +/K +-ATPase α1 subunit in osteoclastogenesis.
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