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TSG-6 is an inflammation-induced protein that is produced at pathological sites, including arthritic joints. In animal models of arthritis, TSG-6 protects against joint damage; this has been attributed to its inhibitory effects on neutrophil migration and plasmin activity. Here we investigated whether TSG-6 can directly influence bone erosion. Our data reveal that TSG-6 inhibits RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation/activation from human and murine precursor cells, where elevated dentine erosion by osteoclasts derived from TSG-6(-/-) mice is consistent with the very severe arthritis seen in these animals. However, the long bones from unchallenged TSG-6(-/-) mice were found to have higher trabecular mass than controls, suggesting that in the absence of inflammation TSG-6 has a role in bone homeostasis; we have detected expression of the TSG-6 protein in the bone marrow of unchallenged wild type mice. Furthermore, we have observed that TSG-6 can inhibit bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2)-mediated osteoblast differentiation. Interaction analysis revealed that TSG-6 binds directly to RANKL and to BMP-2 (as well as other osteogenic BMPs but not BMP-3) via composite surfaces involving its Link and CUB modules. Consistent with this, the full-length protein is required for maximal inhibition of osteoblast differentiation and osteoclast activation, although the isolated Link module retains significant activity in the latter case. We hypothesize that TSG-6 has dual roles in bone remodeling; one protective, where it inhibits RANKL-induced bone erosion in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, and the other homeostatic, where its interactions with BMP-2 and RANKL help to balance mineralization by osteoblasts and bone resorption by osteoclasts.

Original publication




Journal article


J biol chem

Publication Date





25952 - 25962


Animals, Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2, Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, Bone Remodeling, Bone Resorption, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Humans, Kinetics, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, NIH 3T3 Cells, Osteoblasts, Osteoclasts, RANK Ligand, Recombinant Proteins, Transforming Growth Factor beta