Role of Wnt Signaling in Bone Remodeling and Repair
The Wnt genes encode a highly conserved class of signaling factors required for the development of several types of tissues including musculoskeletal and neural structures. There is increasing evidence that Wnt signaling is critical for bone mass accrual, bone remodeling, and fracture repair. Wnt proteins bind to cell-surface receptors and activate signaling pathways which control nuclear gene expression; this Wnt-regulated gene expression controls cell growth and differentiation. Many of the components of the Wnt pathway have recently been characterized, and specific loss-of-function or gain-of-function mutations in this pathway in mice and in humans have resulted in disorders of deficient or excess bone formation, respectively. Pharmacologically targeting components of the Wnt signaling pathway will allow for the manipulation of bone formation and remodeling and will have several orthopedic applications including enhancing bone formation in nonunion and osteoporosis and restricting pathologic bone formation in osteogenic tumors and heterotopic ossification.