Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(9):2367-2379. doi:10.7150/ijbs.56823 This issue
1. Department of Orthopaedics, Panzhihua Central Hospital, Panzhihua City, Sichuan, 617067, China.
2. Department of Orthopedics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University, Kunming 650032, Yunan, China.
Recombinant human bone morphogenetic proteins (rhBMPs) can stimulate bone formation and growth in the treatment of spinal fusions and nonunions. However, it is still unclear whether rhBMPs function in the prevention of intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). Here, we discovered that BMP levels were decreased in IDD patients, which impaired the BMP/Smad (Mothers against decapentaplegic homologs) signaling. Conducting a microarray assay in Smad4-knockdown cells, we found that expression of PUMA (p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis) was significantly induced. The molecular analysis revealed that Smad4 recruited HDAC1 (histone deacetylase 1) and the phosphorylated Smad1/5/8 to dock on the promoter of PUMA to repress its expression. The impairment of BMP/Smad signaling in IDD patients caused the significant induction of Puma-dependent apoptosis and resulted in the pathogenesis of IDD. In vitro knockdown of BMP receptors (BMPR1a and BMPR2) in nucleus pulposus (NP) cells could mimic the molecular changes of BMP/Smad signaling and Puma-dependent apoptotic signaling that were observed in IDD patients. Exposing NP cells to RITA (reactivating p53 and inducing tumor apoptosis) small molecule and rhBMP2 (or rhBMP7), we observed that rhBMP2/7 could significantly decrease protein levels of Puma and its downstream proapoptotic molecules, blocking cell apoptosis. Importantly, administration of rhBMPs in aged rats could inhibit the occurrence of IDD. Our results provide a link between BMP/Smad signaling and Puma-dependent apoptotic signaling, revealing a new mechanism of how BMPs contribute to IDD pathogenesis and providing evidence that rhBMPs may decrease apoptosis and improve the outcome of IDD.
Keywords: BMP, Puma, IDD, Smad1/5/8, Smad4