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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Coralie A.C. Carraway

Second Committee Member

Terace M. Fletcher

Third Committee Member

Carlos Perez-Stable

Fourth Committee Member

Guy A. Howard

Fifth Committee Member

Balakrishna L. Lokeshwar


Bone formation and remodeling require continuous generation of osteoprogenitors from bone marrow stromal cells (MSC), which are regulated by local growth factors and hormones with putative roles in mesenchymal proliferation and differentiation. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor c-Met are widely expressed in MSC and are thought to play a key role in the interactions between cells. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25OHD) is the most active metabolite of vitamin D. 1,25OHD binds to its nuclear/membrane vitamin D receptor (VDR) and generates appropriate biological responses. The purpose of this study was to investigate the regulation of proliferation and differentiation by HGF in human bone marrow-derived stromal cells (hMSC). We examined the impact of HGF on hMSC cell-cycle regulation and the combination effects of HGF and 1,25OHD on hMSC osteogenic differentiation to enhance our knowledge of hMSC regulation. hMSC isolated from bone marrow were plated and grown in DMEM supplemented with 3% FBS incubated at 37C with 5% CO2 in air. HGF treatment of hMSCs reduced the rate of cell proliferation and this result was not due to apoptosis or cell senescence. Real-time RT-PCR and Western blot analysis showed increased gene and protein expression of the cell-cycle inhibitors p53, p21, and p27 after HGF treatment. These results appear to be specific because HGF did not significantly alter the gene expression level of other cell-cycle mediators such as RB, cyclin D1, CDK2, CDK4, or CDK6. Transfection of siRNA specific for cMet, the HGF receptor, eliminated the HGF anti-proliferation effect. cMet siRNA also eliminated the increase in p53, p21, and p27, further supporting a role for these cell-cycle inhibitors in HGF¡¯s regulation of hMSC. These results suggest that treatment of hMSC with HGF slows cell proliferation by increasing the expression of p53, p21, and p27. The reduced rate of cell proliferation did not appear to be due to cell differentiation, because treatment of hMSC with HGF alone did not induce cell differentiation. However, HGF in combination with a known osteogenic differentiation activator, 1,25OHD, significantly increased cell maturation/differentiation compared to 1,25D alone, as indicated by an increase in osteocalcin mRNA (a marker for osteogenic differentiation). Whereas HGF had no effect on 1,25OHD synthesis per se, HGF did induce 1,26OHD receptor (VDR) gene expression. HGF up-regulated the expression of the p63 gene, a member of the p53 family. Knocking down the p63 gene reduced the HGF effect on VDR expression and eliminated the HGF-induced up-regulation of the osteogenic differentiation markers osteopontin (OPN) and bone sialoprotein (BSP). Moreover, the ChIP assay shows that p63 was able to bind to the VDR promoter, possibly explaining the mechanism of p63-mediated VDR up-regulation. These results indicate that HGF can also induce hMSC osteogenic differentiation when combined with 1,25OHD by up-regulating 1,25OHD receptor VDR expression.


Hepatocyte Growth Factor; HGF; Stem Cell; Bone Marrow; Vitamin D3; HMSC