Paper of the Month: April 2020
A Wnt-mediated transformation of the bone marrow stromal cell identity orchestrates skeletal regeneration.
Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) are versatile mesenchymal cell populations underpinning the major functions of the skeleton, a majority of which adjoin sinusoidal blood vessels and express C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12). However, how these cells are activated during regeneration and facilitate osteogenesis remains largely unknown. Cell-lineage analysis using Cxcl12-creER mice reveals that quiescent Cxcl12-creER+ perisinusoidal BMSCs differentiate into cortical bone osteoblasts solely during regeneration. A combined single cell RNA-seq analysis demonstrate that these cells convert their identity into a skeletal stem cell-like state in response to injury, associated with upregulation of osteoblast-signature genes and activation of canonical Wnt signaling components along the single-cell trajectory. β-catenin deficiency in these cells indeed causes insufficiency in cortical bone regeneration. Therefore, quiescent Cxcl12-creER+ BMSCs transform into osteoblast precursor cells in a manner mediated by canonical Wnt signaling, highlighting a unique mechanism by which dormant stromal cells are enlisted for skeletal regeneration.