Phosphate increases bone morphogenetic protein-2 expression through cAMP-dependent protein kinase and ERK1/2 pathways in human dental pulp cells

Hiroyuki Tada, Eiji Nemoto, Brian L. Foster, Martha J. Somerman, Hidetoshi Shimauchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Extracellular phosphate (Pi) is known to play a key role in promoting osteoblastic differentiation by altering gene expression and cellular function. Importantly, it may be possible to use this knowledge as a means to deliver Pi to local sites to regenerate mineralized tissues associated with the oral cavity. Therefore, we determined the ability of Pi to regulate differentiation of pulp cells toward an odontoblast phenotype and further determined if this was in part due to an increase in the expression of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2, a crucial regulator of mineralization. Results showed that Pi increased BMP-2 expression at both mRNA and protein level and BMP-2 promoter activity. Signaling inhibitors revealed that increased BMP-2 expression was dependent on cAMP/protein kinase A but not the protein kinase C signaling pathway. Treatment with 8-Br-cAMP, a cell-permeable analog of cAMP, enhanced Pi-mediated BMP-2 expression, but treatment with 8-Br-cAMP alone did not increase BMP-2, suggesting that cAMP is indispensable but not sufficient for Pi-mediated BMP-2 expression. Pi activated ERK1/2, and treatment with PD98059, an ERK1/2 inhibitor, suppressed Pi-mediated BMP-2 increase, indicating a requirement for activation of ERK1/2. ERK1/2 pathway may operate independently of cAMP-dependent signaling because MDL12,330A, an adenylate cyclase inhibitor, did not inhibit phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in response to Pi. Pulp cells expressed the sodium-dependent Pi transporter (NaPi) III type, but not NaPi-I type or NaPi-II type. Pi-mediated BMP-2 increase was inhibited in the presence of phosphonoformic acid, an inhibitor not only of NaPi transport but also of crystal nucleation. Furthermore, a similar inhibition was observed in the presence of pyrophosphate, a mineralization inhibitor. These findings demonstrate, for the first time, that Pi regulates BMP-2 expression via cAMP/protein kinase A and ERK1/2 pathways in human dental pulp cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409-1416
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun 1


  • BMP-2
  • CAMP
  • Dental pulp cell
  • ERK1/2
  • Extracellular phosphate


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