- Bone-stimulatory therapeutics include bone morphogenetic proteins (e.g. BMP2), parathyroid hormone, and antibody-based suppression of WNT antagonists. Inhibition of the epigenetic enzyme enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) is both bone anabolic and osteoprotective. EZH2 inhibition stimulates key components of bone-stimulatory signaling pathways, including the BMP2 signaling cascade. Because of high costs and adverse effects associated with BMP2 use, here we investigated whether BMP2 dosing can be reduced by co-treatment with EZH2 inhibitors.
- Ezh2 is a histone methyltransferase that suppresses osteoblast maturation and skeletal development. We evaluated the role of Ezh2 in chondrocyte lineage differentiation and endochondral ossification. Ezh2 was genetically inactivated in the mesenchymal, osteoblastic, and chondrocytic lineages in mice using the Prrx1-Cre, Osx1-Cre, and Col2a1-Cre drivers, respectively. WT and conditional knockout mice were phenotypically assessed by gross morphology, histology, and micro-CT imaging. Ezh2-deficient chondrocytes in micromass culture models were evaluated using RNA-Seq, histologic evaluation, and Western blotting.
- Epigenetic mechanisms control skeletal development and osteoblast differentiation. Pharmacological inhibition of the histone 3 Lys-27 (H3K27) methyltransferase enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) in WT mice enhances osteogenesis and stimulates bone formation. However, conditional genetic loss of Ezh2 early in the mesenchymal lineage (i.e. through excision via Prrx1 promoter–driven Cre) causes skeletal abnormalities due to patterning defects. Here, we addressed the key question of whether Ezh2 controls osteoblastogenesis at later developmental stages beyond patterning.
- Perturbations in skeletal development and bone degeneration may result in reduced bone mass and quality, leading to greater fracture risk. Bone loss is mitigated by bone protective therapies, but there is a clinical need for new bone-anabolic agents. Previous work has demonstrated that Ezh2 (enhancer of zeste homolog 2), a histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27) methyltransferase, suppressed differentiation of osteogenic progenitors. Here, we investigated whether inhibition of Ezh2 can be leveraged for bone stimulatory applications.
- Background: Osteogenic differentiation is initiated by transcriptional and post-transcriptional epigenetic mechanisms. Results: Inhibition of H3K27 methyltransferase EZH2 enhances osteogenic commitment of human mesenchymal progenitors, and its depletion in mouse mesenchymal cells causes multiple skeletal abnormalities. Conclusion: EZH2 is required for skeletal patterning and bone formation. Significance: EZH2-dependent epigenetic mechanisms control osteogenesis both in vitro and in vivo.