Heterozygous deletion of both sclerostin (Sost) and connexin43 (Gja1) genes in mice is not sufficient to impair cortical bone modeling


Susan K. Grimston , Francesca Fontana  , Marcus Watkins, Roberto Civitelli


Connexin43 (Cx43) is the main gap junction protein expressed in bone forming cells, where it modulates peak bone mass acquisition and cortical modeling. Genetic ablation of the Cx43 gene (Gja1) results in cortical expansion with accentuated periosteal bone formation associated with decreased expression of the Wnt inhibitor sclerostin. To determine whether sclerostin (Sost) down-regulation might contribute to periosteal expansion in Gja1 deficient bones, we took a gene interaction approach and crossed mice harboring germline null alleles for Gja1 or Sost to generate single Gja1+/–and Sost+/–and double Gja1+/–;Sost+/–heterozygous mice. In vivo μCT analysis of cortical bone at age 1 and 3 months confirmed increased thickness in Sost–/–mice, but revealed no cortical abnormalities in single Gja1+/–or Sost+/–mice. Double heterozygous Gja1+/–Sost+/–also showed no differences in mineral density, cortical thickness, width or geometry relative to wild type control mice. Likewise, 3-point bending measurement of bone strength revealed no significant differences between double Gja1+/–;Sost+/–or single heterozygous and wild type mice. Although these data do not exclude a contribution of reduced sclerostin in the cortical expansion seen in Gja1 deficient bones, they are not consistent with a strong genetic interaction between Sost and Gja1 dictating cortical modeling.