Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) play essential roles in bone formation and osteoblast activity through the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and Smad pathways. Sprouty family members are intracellular inhibitors of the FGF signaling pathway, and four orthologs of Sprouty have been identified in mammals. In vivo analyses have revealed that Sprouty2 is associated with bone formation. However, the mechanism by which the Sprouty family controls bone formation has not been clarified. In this study, we investigated the involvement of Sprouty2 in osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. We examined Sprouty2 expression in MC3T3-E1 cells, and found that high levels of Sprouty2 expression were induced by basic FGF stimulation. Overexpression of Sprouty2 in MC3T3-E1 cells resulted in suppressed proliferation compared with control cells. Sprouty2 negatively regulated the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 after basic FGF stimulation, and of Smad1/5/8 after BMP stimulation. Furthermore, Sprouty2 suppressed the expression of osterix, alkaline phosphatase, and osteocalcin mRNA, which are markers of osteoblast differentiation. Additionally, Sprouty2 inhibited osteoblast matrix mineralization. These results suggest that Sprouty2 is involved in the control of osteoblast proliferation and differentiation by downregulating the FGF-ERK1/2 and BMP-Smad pathways, and suppresses the induction of markers of osteoblast differentiation.
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