Adequate bone formation is assured by the coordinated proliferation, migration, differentiation, and secretory functions of osteoblasts. Epidemiological studies have linked insufficient dietary magnesium (Mg) intake to osteoporosis. Here, we investigated the role of melastatin-like transient receptor potential 7 (TRPM7), a calcium (Ca) and Mg channel, in osteoblastic differentiation of the murine MC3T3 cell line. Osteoblastic differentiation was monitored by alkaline phosphatase activity, osteocalcin gene expression, and extracellular matrix mineralization. Gene expression of TRPM7 increased with osteoblastic differentiation, suggesting the importance of intracellular Ca/Mg homeostasis to cell differentiation. Alteration of intracellular Ca/Mg homeostasis by culture conditions with low extracellular Ca or Mg significantly reduced the osteoblastic differentiation markers alkaline phosphatase activity and osteocalcin gene expression. In accordance, matrix mineralization was reduced under low extracellular Ca or Mg levels. Nevertheless, expression of collagen type I, the predominant matrix protein, was increased in low-Mg culture conditions, indicating that dysfunction of matrix protein production cannot account for the reduced mineralization. Silencing TRPM7 expression during the differentiation period also reduced osteoblastic differentiation and the extent of matrix mineralization. Gene expression of osteoblastic transcription factor Runx2 was reduced by conditions of culture under low extracellular Ca or Mg levels, as well as by TRPM7 silencing. Our results indicate that intracellular Ca and Mg homeostasis ensured by TRPM7 expression is important for the osteoblastic differentiation of MC3T3 cells. Thus, Mg deficiency, a common condition among the population, may be associated with altered osteoblastic differentiation leading to inadequate bone formation and the development of osteoporosis.
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This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC, R. M.) and the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies (FQRNT, E. A.). We thank Dr. Daniel Lajeunesse for his help with the real-time PCR.
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