Myocilin stimulates osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells through mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling

Heung Sun Kwon, Thomas V. Johnson, Stanislav I. Tomarev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Myocilin is a secreted glycoprotein that is expressed in ocular and non-ocular tissues. Mutations in the MYOCILIN gene may lead to juvenile- and adult-onset primary open-angle glaucoma. Here we report that myocilin is expressed in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and plays a role in their differentiation into osteoblasts in vitro and in osteogenesis in vivo. Expression of myocilin was detected in MSCs derived from mouse, rat, and human bone marrow, with human MSCs exhibiting the highest level of myocilin expression. Expression of myocilin rose during the course of human MSC differentiation into osteoblasts but not into adipocytes, and treatment with exogenous myocilin further enhanced osteogenesis. MSCs derived from Myoc-null mice had a reduced ability to differentiate into the osteoblastic lineage, which was partially rescued by exogenous extracellular myocilin treatment. Myocilin also stimulated osteogenic differentiation of wild-type MSCs, which was associated with activation of the p38, Erk1/2, and JNK MAP kinase signaling pathways as well as up-regulated expression of the osteogenic transcription factors Runx2 and Dlx5. Finally, cortical bone thickness and trabecular volume, as well as the expression level of osteopontin, a known factor of bone remodeling and osteoblast differentiation, were reduced dramatically in the femurs of Myoc-null mice compared with wild-type mice. These data suggest that myocilin should be considered as a target for improving the bone regenerative potential of MSCs and may identify a new role for myocilin in bone formation and/or maintenance in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16882-16894
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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