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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 3865315, 14 pages
Research Article

PS1/γ-Secretase-Mediated Cadherin Cleavage Induces β-Catenin Nuclear Translocation and Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Bone Marrow Stromal Cells

1Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
2Clementino Fraga Filho University Hospital, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
3Institute of Medical Biochemistry, National Institute of Cancer, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
4Molecular Carcinogenesis Program, National Institute of Cancer, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
5Evandro Chagas Clinical Research Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Institute (FIOCRUZ), Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 12 September 2016; Accepted 1 November 2016

Academic Editor: Andrea Ballini

Copyright © 2016 Danielle C. Bonfim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) are considered a promising tool for bone bioengineering. However, the mechanisms controlling osteoblastic commitment are still unclear. Osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs requires the activation of β-catenin signaling, classically known to be regulated by the canonical Wnt pathway. However, BMSCs treatment with canonical Wnts in vitro does not always result in osteogenic differentiation and evidence indicates that a more complex signaling pathway, involving cadherins, would be required to induce β-catenin signaling in these cells. Here we showed that Wnt3a alone did not induce TCF activation in BMSCs, maintaining the cells at a proliferative state. On the other hand, we verified that, upon BMSCs osteoinduction with dexamethasone, cadherins were cleaved by the PS1/γ-secretase complex at the plasma membrane, and this event was associated with an enhanced β-catenin translocation to the nucleus and signaling. When PS1/γ-secretase activity was inhibited, the osteogenic process was impaired. Altogether, we provide evidence that PS1/γ-secretase-mediated cadherin cleavage has as an important role in controlling β-catenin signaling during the onset of BMSCs osteogenic differentiation, as part of a complex signaling pathway responsible for cell fate decision. A comprehensive map of these pathways might contribute to the development of strategies to improve bone repair.