Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Aug 17; 118(33):e2111401118
Skeletal muscle and bone homeostasis are regulated by members of the myostatin/GDF-11/activin branch of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, which share many regulatory components, including inhibitory extracellular binding proteins and receptors that mediate signaling. Here, we present the results of genetic studies demonstrating a critical role for the binding protein follistatin (FST) in regulating both skeletal muscle and bone. Using an allelic series corresponding to varying expression levels of endogenous Fst, we show that FST acts in an exquisitely dose-dependent manner to regulate both muscle mass and bone density. Moreover, by employing a genetic strategy to target Fst expression only in the posterior (caudal) region of the animal, we show that the effects of Fst loss are mostly restricted to the posterior region, implying that locally produced FST plays a much more important role than circulating FST with respect to regulation of muscle and bone. Finally, we show that targeting receptors for these ligands specifically in osteoblasts leads to dramatic increases in bone mass, with trabecular bone volume fraction being increased by 12- to 13-fold and bone mineral density being increased by 8- to 9-fold in humeri, femurs, and lumbar vertebrae. These findings demonstrate that bone, like muscle, has an enormous inherent capacity for growth that is normally kept in check by this signaling system and suggest that the extent to which this regulatory mechanism may be used throughout the body to regulate tissue mass may be more significant than previously appreciated.
Liu, Yewei; Lehar, Adam; Rydzik, Renata; Chandok, Harshpreet; Lee, Yun-Sil; Youngstrom, Daniel W; George, Joshy; Matzuk, Martin M; Germain-Lee, Emily L; and Lee, Se-Jin, "Local versus systemic control of bone and skeletal muscle mass by components of the transforming growth factor-β signaling pathway." (2021). Faculty Research 2021. 168.