Mutations in WNT1 cause osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) and early-onset osteoporosis, identifying it as a key Wnt ligand in human bone homeostasis. However, how and where WNT1 acts in bone are unclear. To address this mechanism, we generated late-osteoblast-specific and osteocyte-specific WNT1 loss- and gain-of-function mouse models. Deletion of Wnt1 in osteocytes resulted in low bone mass with spontaneous fractures similar to that observed in OI patients.
WNT proteins comprise a 19-member glycoprotein family that act in several developmental and regenerative processes. In bone, WNT proteins regulate osteoblast differentiation and maintain bone health by activating the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway. We reported a heterozygous missense mutation c.652T>G (p.C218G) in WNT1 exon 4 as the cause for severe early-onset, autosomal dominant osteoporosis. The initial study concerned a large Finnish family with 10 affected adults.