Conditional Activation of NF-κB Inducing Kinase (NIK) in the Osteolineage Enhances Both Basal and Loading-Induced Bone Formation

Jennifer L. Davis, Linda Cox, Christine Shao, Cheng Lyu, Shaopeng Liu, Rajeev Aurora, Deborah J. Veis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Studies from global loss-of-function mutants suggest that alternative NF-κB downstream of NF-κB inducing kinase (NIK) is a cell-intrinsic negative regulator of osteogenesis. However, the interpretation of the osteoblast and/or osteocyte contribution to the bone phenotype is complicated by simultaneous osteoclast defects in these models. Therefore, we turned to a transgenic mouse model to investigate the direct role of NIK in the osteolineage. Osx-Cre;NT3 animals (NT3-Cre +), which bear a constitutively active NIK allele (NT3) driven by Osx-Cre, were compared with their Cre-negative, Control (Ctrl) littermates. NT3-Cre + mice had elevated serum P1NP and CTX levels. Despite this high turnover state, µCT showed that constitutive activation of NIK resulted in a net increase in basal bone mass in both cortical and cancellous compartments. Furthermore, NT3-Cre + mice exhibited a greater anabolic response following mechanical loading compared with controls. We next performed RNA-Seq on nonloaded and loaded tibias to elucidate possible mechanisms underlying the increased bone anabolism seen in NT3-Cre + mice. Hierarchical clustering revealed two main transcriptional programs: one loading-responsive and the other NT3 transgene-driven. Gene ontology (GO) analysis indicated a distinct upregulation of receptor, kinase, and growth factor activities including Wnts, as well as a calcium-response signature in NT3-Cre + limbs. The promoters of these GO-term associated genes, including many known to be bone-anabolic, were highly enriched for multiple κB recognition elements (κB-RE) relative to the background frequency in the genome. The loading response in NT3-Cre + mice substantially overlapped (>90%) with Ctrl. Surprisingly, control animals had 10-fold more DEGs in response to loading. However, most top DEGs shared between genotypes had a high incidence of multiple κB-RE in their promoters. Therefore, both transcriptional programs (loading-responsive and NT3 transgene-driven) are modulated by NF-κB. Our studies uncover a previously unrecognized role for NF-κB in the promotion of both basal and mechanically stimulated bone formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2087-2100
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019




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