Pulsed-electromagnetic-field induced osteoblast differentiation requires activation of genes downstream of adenosine receptors A2A and A3

Niladri S. Kar, Daniel Ferguson, Nianli Zhang, Erik I. Waldorff, James T. Ryaby, Joseph A. DiDonato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Pulsed-electromagnetic-field (PEMF) treatment was found to enhance cellular differentiation of the mouse preosteoblast, MC3T3-E1, to a more osteoblastic phenotype. Differentiation genes such as Alp, BSPI, cFos, Ibsp, Osteocalcin, Pthr1 and Runx2 showed increased expression in response to PEMF stimulation. Detailed molecular mechanisms linking PEMF to the activation of these genes are limited. Two adenosine receptors known to be modulated in response to PEMF, Adora2A and Adora3, were functionally impaired by CRISPRCas9- mediated gene disruption, and the consequences of which were studied in the context of PEMF-mediated osteoblastic differentiation. Disruption of Adora2A resulted in a delay of Alp mRNA expression, but not alkaline phosphatase protein expression, which was similar to that found in wild type cells. However, Adora3 disruption resulted in significantly reduced responses at both the alkaline phosphatase mRNA and protein levels throughout the PEMF stimulation period. Defects observed in response to PEMF were mirrored using a chemically defined growth and differentiation-inducing media (DM). Moreover, in cells with Adora2A disruption, gene expression profiles showed a blunted response in cFos and Pthr1 to PEMF treatment; whereas cells with Adora3 disruption had mostly blunted responses in AlpI, BSPI, Ibsp, Osteocalcin and Sp7 gene activation. To demonstrate specificity for Adora3 function, the Adora3 open reading frame was inserted into the ROSA26 locus in Adora3 disrupted cells culminating in rescued PEMF responsiveness and thereby eliminating the possibility of off-target effects. These results lead us to propose that there are complementary and parallel positive roles for adenosine receptor A2A and A3 in PEMF-mediated osteoblast differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0247659
JournalPloS one
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - Feb 2021


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