Sone E, Noshiro D, Ikebuchi Y, Nakagawa M, Khan M, Tamura Y, Ikeda M, Oki M, Murali R, Fujimori T, Yoda T, Honma M, Suzuki H, Ando T, Aoki K.
We recently found that the membrane-bound receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) on osteoblasts works as a receptor to stimulate osteoblast differentiation, however, the reason why the RANKL-binding molecules stimulate osteoblast differentiation has not been well clarified. Since the induction of cell-surface receptor clustering is known to lead to cell activation, we hypothesized that the induction of membrane-RANKL clustering on osteoblasts might stimulate osteoblast differentiation. Immunoblotting showed that the amount of RANKL on the membrane was increased by the RANKL-binding peptide OP3-4, but not by osteoprotegerin (OPG), the other RANKL-binding molecule, in Gfp-Rankl-transfected ST2 cells. Observation under a high-speed atomic force microscope (HS-AFM) revealed that RANKL molecules have the ability to form clusters. The induction of membrane-RANKL-OPG-Fc complex clustering by the addition of IgM in Gfp-Rankl-transfected ST2 cells could enhance the expression of early markers of osteoblast differentiation to the same extent as OP3-4, while OPG-Fc alone could not. These results suggest that the clustering-formation of membrane-RANKL on osteoblasts could stimulate early osteoblast differentiation.