Sema3A regulates bone-mass accrual through sensory innervations

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 28 August 2013

This article has been updated


Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) is a diffusible axonal chemorepellent that has an important role in axon guidance1,2,3,4,5. Previous studies have demonstrated that Sema3a−/− mice have multiple developmental defects due to abnormal neuronal innervations6,7. Here we show in mice that Sema3A is abundantly expressed in bone, and cell-based assays showed that Sema3A affected osteoblast differentiation in a cell-autonomous fashion. Accordingly, Sema3a−/− mice had a low bone mass due to decreased bone formation. However, osteoblast-specific Sema3A-deficient mice (Sema3acol1−/− and Sema3aosx−/− mice) had normal bone mass, even though the expression of Sema3A in bone was substantially decreased. In contrast, mice lacking Sema3A in neurons (Sema3asynapsin−/− and Sema3anestin−/− mice) had low bone mass, similar to Sema3a−/− mice, indicating that neuron-derived Sema3A is responsible for the observed bone abnormalities independent of the local effect of Sema3A in bone. Indeed, the number of sensory innervations of trabecular bone was significantly decreased in Sema3asynapsin−/− mice, whereas sympathetic innervations of trabecular bone were unchanged. Moreover, ablating sensory nerves decreased bone mass in wild-type mice, whereas it did not reduce the low bone mass in Sema3anestin−/− mice further, supporting the essential role of the sensory nervous system in normal bone homeostasis. Finally, neuronal abnormalities in Sema3a−/− mice, such as olfactory development, were identified in Sema3asynasin−/− mice, demonstrating that neuron-derived Sema3A contributes to the abnormal neural development seen in Sema3a−/− mice, and indicating that Sema3A produced in neurons regulates neural development in an autocrine manner. This study demonstrates that Sema3A regulates bone remodelling indirectly by modulating sensory nerve development, but not directly by acting on osteoblasts.

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Figure 1: Sema3a−/− mice have low bone mass.
Figure 2: Osteoblast-derived Sema3A does not affect bone mass in vivo.
Figure 3: Neuron-derived Sema3A is indispensable for normal bone mass in vivo.
Figure 4: Neuron-derived Sema3A is indispensable for sensory nerve innervation into bone.

Change history

  • 28 August 2013

    Nature 497, 490–493 (2013); doi:10.1038/nature12115 In this Letter the left panels of Fig. 2a show images of a femur from a semaphorin 3A-knockout (Sema3acol1−/−) mouse, rather than from a littermate Sema3af/f mouse. Figure 1 shows the correct panels. This error does not affect our conclusions and the legend of Fig.


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We thank M. Taniguchi and G. Karsenty for discussions; F. Suto and H. Fujisawa for Plxna4−/− mice; M. Ukegawa, H. Inose, M. Iwata, S. Ohba, T. Hara and G. Itai for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Funding Program for Next Generation World-Leading Researchers (NEXT Program) to S.T., a grant-in-aid for scientific research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to S.T. and T.F., and grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS065048) to Y.Y.

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T.F. conducted most of the experiments. R.X., H. Ochi, A.K., Z.G., Y.Y., C.M., C.X., T.H., Y.A. and M.E. conducted mice analyses. T.S., K.F., W.B. and S. Sunamura conducted in vitro experiments. S. Shibata and H. Okano generated mutant mice. A.O., H.I. and K.S. discussed the project. S.T. wrote most of the manuscript. S.T. designed and supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Shu Takeda.

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Fukuda, T., Takeda, S., Xu, R. et al. Sema3A regulates bone-mass accrual through sensory innervations. Nature 497, 490–493 (2013).

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