Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32553114
Link to DOI – 10.7554/eLife.55549e55549
Elife 2020 06; 9():
Functional characterisation of cell-type-specific regulatory networks is key to establish a causal link between genetic variation and phenotype. The osteoclast offers a unique model for interrogating the contribution of co-regulated genes to in vivo phenotype as its multinucleation and resorption activities determine quantifiable skeletal traits. Here we took advantage of a trans-regulated gene network (MMnet, macrophage multinucleation network) which we found to be significantly enriched for GWAS variants associated with bone-related phenotypes. We found that the network hub gene Bcat1 and seven other co-regulated MMnet genes out of 13, regulate bone function. Specifically, global (Pik3cb-/-, Atp8b2+/-, Igsf8-/-, Eml1-/-, Appl2-/-, Deptor-/-) and myeloid-specific Slc40a1 knockout mice displayed abnormal bone phenotypes. We report opposing effects of MMnet genes on bone mass in mice and osteoclast multinucleation/resorption in humans with strong correlation between the two. These results identify MMnet as a functionally conserved network that regulates osteoclast multinucleation and bone mass.