Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) activates NFATc1 transcription factor via an autoregulatory loop involving Smad/Akt/Ca2+ signaling

Chandi C. Mandal, Falguni Das, Suthakar Ganapathy, Stephen E. Harris, Goutam Ghosh Choudhury, Nandini Ghosh-Choudhury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Bone remodeling is controlled by dual actions of osteoclasts (OCs) and osteoblasts (OBs). The calcium-sensitive nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) c1 transcription factor, as an OC signature gene, regulates differentiation of OCs downstream of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2)-stimulated osteoblastcoded factors. To analyze a functional link between BMP-2 and NFATc1, we analyzed bones from OB-specific BMP-2 knockout mice for NFATc1 expression by immunohistochemical staining and found significant reduction in NFATc1 expression. This indicated a requirement of BMP-2 for NFATc1 expression in OBs. We showed that BMP-2, via the receptor-specific Smad pathway, regulates expression of NFATc1 in OBs. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling acting downstream of BMP-2 also drives NFATc1 expression and transcriptional activation. Under the basal condition, NFATc1 is phosphorylated. Activation of NFAT requires dephosphorylation by the calcium-dependent serine/threonine phosphatase calcineurin. We examined the role of calcium in BMP-2-stimulated regulation of NFATc1 in osteoblasts. 1,2Bis(2aminophenoxy)ethaneN,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid acetoxymethyl ester, an inhibitor of intracellular calcium abundance, blocked BMP-2-induced transcription of NFATc1. Interestingly, BMP-2 induced calcium release from intracellular stores and increased calcineurin phosphatase activity, resulting in NFATc1 nuclear translocation. Cyclosporin A, which inhibits calcineurin upstream of NFATc1, blocked BMP-2-induced NFATc1 mRNA and protein expression. Expression of NFATc1 directly increased its transcription and VIVIT peptide, an inhibitor of NFATc1, suppressed BMP-2-stimulated NFATc1 transcription, confirming its autoregulation. Together, these data show a role of NFATc1 downstream of BMP-2 in mouse bone development and provide novel evidence for the presence of a cross-talk among Smad, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt, and Ca2+ signaling for BMP-2-induced NFATc1 expression through an autoregulatory loop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1161
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 15 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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