Osteoclasts are the bone resorbing cells that derive from myeloid progenitor cells. Although there have been recent advancements in the ability to identify osteoclast progenitors, very little is known about the molecular mechanisms governing their homeostasis. Here, by analyzing the normalized phylogenetic profiles of the Schlafen (Slfn) gene family, we found that it co-evolved with osteoclast-related genes. Following these findings, we used a Slfn2 loss-of-function mutant mouse, elektra, to study the direct role of Slfn2 in osteoclast development and function. Slfn2eka/eka mice exhibited a profound increase in their cancellous bone mass and a significant reduction in osteoclast numbers. In addition, monocyte cultures from the bone marrow of Slfn2eka/eka mice showed a reduction in osteoclast number and total resorption area. Finally, we show that the bone marrow of Slfn2eka/eka mice have significantly less CD11b–Ly6Chi osteoclast precursors. Overall, our data suggest that Slfn2 is required for normal osteoclast differentiation and that loss of its function in mice results in an osteopetrotic phenotype.
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