Morc3 mutant mice exhibit reduced cortical area and thickness, accompanied by altered haematopoietic stem cells niche and bone cell differentiation


Gaurav Jadhav, Dian Teguh, Jacob Kenny, Jennifer Tickner & Jiake Xu


Morc3, a member of a highly conserved nuclear matrix protein super-family plays an important part in chromatin remodeling, DNA repair, epigenetic regulation and cellular senescence. However, its role in bone homeostasis is not known. In the present study, a phenotype-driven ENU mouse mutagenesis screen revealed that Morc3mut +/− mice exhibit reduced cortical area and thickness with increased cortical porosity. Morc3mut +/− mice displayed reduced osteoclast numbers and surface per bone surface as well as osteocyte numbers, concomitant with altered gene expressions such as Rankl/Opg and Sost in ex vivo long bones. In vitro experiments revealed a significant increase in the number of Sca-1+/c-kit+ haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and a significant reduction in senescence associated β-galactosidase activity in bone marrow macrophages (BMMs). In addition, we observed a decrease in osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption accompanied by upregulation of STAT1 expression in osteoclast lineage cells. Strikingly, Morc3 protein localization within the nuclear membrane was shifted to the cytoplasm in Morc3mut +/− osteoclasts. Further, Morc3mut +/− mice displayed increased osteoblast differentiation and altered gene expression. Collectively, our data show that Morc3 is a previously unreported regulator of cortical bone homeostasis and haematopoietic stem cells niche, accompanied by altered bone cell differentiation.