Transferrin receptor 1-mediated iron uptake regulates bone mass in mice via osteoclast mitochondria and cytoskeleton

Bhaba K. Das, Lei Wang, Toshifumi Fujiwara, Jian Zhou, Nukhet Aykin-Burns, Kimberly J. Krager, Renny Lan, Samuel G. Mackintosh, Ricky Edmondson, Michael L. Jennings, Xiaofang Wang, Jian Q. Feng, Tomasa Barrientos, Jyoti Gogoi, Aarthi Kannan, Ling Gao, Weirong Xing, Subburaman Mohan, Haibo Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Increased intracellular iron spurs mitochondrial biogenesis and respiration to satisfy high-energy demand during osteoclast differentiation and bone-resorbing activities. Transferrin receptor 1 (Tfr1) mediates cellular iron uptake through endocytosis of iron-loaded transferrin and its expression increases during osteoclast differentiation. Nonetheless, the precise functions of Tfr1 and Tfr1-mediated iron uptake in osteoclast biology and skeletal homeostasis remain incompletely understood. To investigate the role of Tfr1 in osteoclast lineage cells in vivo and in vitro, we crossed Tfrc (encoding Tfr1)-floxed mice with Lyz2 (LysM)-Cre and Cathepsin K (Ctsk)-Cre mice to generate Tfrc conditional knockout mice in myeloid osteoclast precursors (Tfr1ΔLysM) or differentiated osteoclasts (Tfr1ΔCtsk), respectively. Skeletal phenotyping by μCT and histology unveiled a significant increase in trabecular bone mass with normal osteoclast number in long bones of 10-week-old young and 6-month-old adult female but not male Tfr1ΔLysM mice. Although high trabecular bone volume in long bones was observed in both male and female Tfr1ΔCtsk mice, this phenotype was more pronounced in female knockout mice. Consistent with this gender-dependent phenomena, estrogen-deficiency induced by ovariectomy decreased trabecular bone mass in Tfr1ΔLysM mice. Mechanistically, disruption of Tfr1 expression attenuated mitochondrial metabolism and cytoskeletal organization in mature osteoclasts in vitro by attenuating mitochondrial respiration and activation of the Src-Rac1-WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) axis, respectively, leading to decreased bone resorption with little impact on osteoclast differentiation. These results indicate that Tfr1-mediated iron uptake is specifically required for osteoclast function and is indispensable for bone remodeling in a gender-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere73539
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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