Inhibition of osteoblastic Smurf1 promotes bone formation in mouse models of distinctive age-related osteoporosis

Chao Liang, Songlin Peng, Jie Li, Jun Lu, Daogang Guan, Feng Jiang, Cheng Lu, Fangfei Li, Xiaojuan He, Hailong Zhu, D. W. T. Au, Dazhi Yang, Bao Ting Zhang*, Aiping Lu*, Ge Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling is essential for osteogenesis. However, recombinant human BMPs (rhBMPs) exhibit large inter-individual variations in local bone formation during clinical spinal fusion. Smurf1 ubiquitinates BMP downstream molecules for degradation. Here, we classify age-related osteoporosis based on distinct intraosseous BMP-2 levels and Smurf1 activity. One major subgroup with a normal BMP-2 level and elevated Smurf1 activity (BMP-2n/Smurf1e) shows poor response to rhBMP-2 during spinal fusion, when compared to another major subgroup with a decreased BMP-2 level and normal Smurf1 activity (BMP-2d/Smurf1n). We screen a chalcone derivative, i.e., 2-(4-cinnamoylphenoxy)acetic acid, which effectively inhibits Smurf1 activity and increases BMP signaling. For BMP-2n/Smurf1e mice, the chalcone derivative enhances local bone formation during spinal fusion. After conjugating to an osteoblast-targeting and penetrating oligopeptide (DSS)6, the chalcone derivative promotes systemic bone formation in BMP-2n/Smurf1e mice. This study demonstrates a precision medicine-based bone anabolic strategy for age-related osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3428
Number of pages14
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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