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Receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) is expressed by a number of cell types to participate in diverse physiological functions. We have previously identified 10 distal RANKL enhancers. Earlier studies have shown that RL-D5 is a multifunctional RANKL enhancer. Deletion of RL-D5 from the mouse genome leads to lower skeletal and lymphoid tissue RANKL, causing a high bone mass phenotype. Herein, we determine the physiological role and lineage specificity of 2 additional RANKL enhancers, RL-D6 and RL-T1, which are located 83 and 123 kb upstream of the gene's transcriptional start site, respectively. Lack of RL-D6 or RL-T1 did not alter skeletal RANKL or bone mineral density up to 48 weeks of age. Although both RL-D5 and RL-T1 contributed to activation induction of T-cell RANKL, RL-T1 knockout mice had drastically low lymphocyte and lymphoid tissue RANKL levels, indicating that RL-T1 is the major regulator of lymphocyte RANKL. Moreover, RL-T1 knockout mice had lower circulating soluble RANKL, suggesting that lymphocytes are important sources of circulating soluble RANKL. Under physiological conditions, lack of RL-D6 did not alter RANKL expression. However, lack of RL-D5 or RL-D6, but not of RL-T1, blunted the oncostatin M and lipopolysaccharide induction of RANKL ex vivo and in vivo, suggesting that RL-D5 and RL-D6 coregulate the inflammation-mediated induction of RANKL in osteocytes and osteoblasts while lack of RL-D6 did not alter secondary hyperparathyroidism or lactation induction of RANKL or bone loss. These results suggest that although RL-D5 mediates RANKL expression in multiple lineages, other cell type- or factor-specific enhancers are required for its appropriate control, demonstrating the cell type-specific and complex regulation of RANKL expression.


M Onal, H C St John, A L Danielson, J W Markert, E M Riley, J W Pike. Unique Distal Enhancers Linked to the Mouse Tnfsf11 Gene Direct Tissue-Specific and Inflammation-Induced Expression of RANKL. Endocrinology. 2016 Feb;157(2):482-96

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PMID: 26646205

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