BMP-2/4 and BMP-6/7 differentially utilize cell surface receptors to induce osteoblastic differentiation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells.
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are members of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily of growth factors and are used clinically to induce new bone formation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate receptor utilization by BMP-2, BMP-4, BMP-6, and BMP-7 in primary human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC), a physiologically relevant cell type that probably mediates the in vivo effects of BMPs. RNA interference-mediated gene knockdown revealed that osteoinductive BMP activities in hMSC are elicited through the type I receptors ACVR1A and BMPR1A and the type II receptors ACVR2A and BMPR2. BMPR1B and ACVR2B were expressed at low levels and were not found to play a significant role in signaling by any of the BMPs evaluated in this study. Type II receptor utilization differed significantly between BMP-2/4 and BMP-6/7. A greater reliance on BMPR2 was observed for BMP-2/4 relative to BMP-6/7, whereas ACVR2A was more critical to signaling by BMP-6/7 than BMP-2/4. Significant differences were also observed for the type I receptors. Although BMP-2/4 used predominantly BMPR1A for signaling, ACVR1A was the preferred type I receptor for BMP-6/7. Signaling by both BMP-2/4 and BMP-6/7 was mediated by homodimers of ACVR1A or BMPR1A. A portion of BMP-2/4 signaling also required concurrent BMPR1A and ACVR1A expression, suggesting that BMP-2/4 signal in part through ACVR1A/BMPR1A heterodimers. The capacity of ACVR1A and BMPR1A to form homodimers and heterodimers was confirmed by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer analyses. These results suggest different mechanisms for BMP-2/4- and BMP-6/7-induced osteoblastic differentiation in primary hMSC.