Loss of osteoblast Runx3 produces severe congenital osteopenia

Omri Bauer, Amnon Sharir, Ayako Kimura, Shay Hantisteanu, Shu Takeda, Yoram Groner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Congenital osteopenia is a bone demineralization condition that is associated with elevated fracture risk in human infants. Here we show that Runx3, like Runx2, is expressed in precommitted embryonic osteoblasts and that Runx3-deficient mice develop severe congenital osteopenia. Runx3-deficient osteoblast-specific (Runx3fl/fl/Col1α1-cre), but not chondrocyte-specific (Runx3fl/fl/Col1α2-cre), mice are osteopenic. This demonstrates that an osteoblastic cell-autonomous function of Runx3 is required for proper osteogenesis. Bone histomorphometry revealed that decreased osteoblast numbers and reduced mineral deposition capacity in Runx3-deficient mice cause this bone formation deficiency. Neonatal bone and cultured primary osteoblast analyses revealed a Runx3-deficiency-associated decrease in the number of active osteoblasts resulting from diminished proliferation and not from enhanced osteoblast apoptosis. These findings are supported by Runx3-null culture transcriptome analyses showing significant decreases in the levels of osteoblastic markers and increases in the levels of Notch signaling components. Thus, while Runx2 is mandatory for the osteoblastic lineage commitment, Runx3 is nonredundantly required for the proliferation of these precommitted cells, to generate adequate numbers of active osteoblasts. Human RUNX3 resides on chromosome 1p36, a region that is associated with osteoporosis. Therefore, RUNX3 might also be involved in human bone mineralization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1097-1109
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, American Society for Microbiology.


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