Commitment and differentiation of osteoclast precursor cells by the sequential expression of c-Fms and receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANK) receptors

Fumio Arai, Takeshi Miyamoto, Osamu Ohneda, Tornohisa Inada, Tetsuo Sudo, Kenneth Brasel, Takashi Miyata, Dirk M. Anderson, Toshio Suda

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Osteoclasts are terminally differentiated cells derived from hematopoietic stem cells. However, how their precursor cells diverge from macrophagic lineages is not known. We have identified early and late stages of osteoclastogenesis, in which precursor cells sequentially express c-Fms followed by receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANK), and have demonstrated that BANK expression in early-stage of precursor cells (c- Fms+RANK-) was stimulated by macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF). Although M-CSF and RANKL (ligand) induced commitment of late-stage precursor cells (c-Fms+RANK+) into osteoclasts, even late-stage precursors have the potential to differentiate into macrophages without RANKL. Pretreatment of precursors with M-CSF and delayed addition of RANKL showed that timing of RANK expression and subsequent binding of RANKL are critical for osteoclastogenesis. Thus, the RANK-RANKL system determines the osteoclast differentiation of bipotential precursors in the default pathway of macrophagic differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1741-1754
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 20 1999
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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