Therapeutics targeting osteoclasts are commonly used treatments for bone metastasis; however, whether and how osteoclasts regulate premetastatic niche and bone tropism are largely unknown. In this study, we report that osteoclast precursors (OPs) can function as a premetastatic niche component that facilitates breast cancer (BCa) bone metastasis at early stages. At the molecular level, unbiased GPCR ligand/agonist screening in BCa cells suggested that R-spondin 2 (RSPO2) and RANKL, through interaction with their receptor LGR4, promoted osteoclastic premetastatic niche formation and enhanced BCa bone metastasis. This was achieved by RSPO2/RANKL-LGR4 signal modulating the WNT inhibitor DKK1 through Gαq and β-catenin signaling. DKK1 directly facilitated OP recruitment through suppression of its receptor LDL receptor–related protein 5 (LRP5) but not LRP6, upregulating Rnasek expression via inhibition of canonical WNT signaling. In clinical samples, RSPO2, LGR4, and DKK1 expression showed a positive correlation with BCa bone metastasis. Furthermore, soluble LGR4 extracellular domain (ECD) protein, acting as a decoy receptor for RSPO2 and RANKL, significantly alleviated bone metastasis and osteolytic lesions in a mouse bone metastasis model. These findings provide unique insights into the functional role of OPs as key components of the premetastatic niche for BCa bone metastasis and identify RSPO2/RANKL-LGR4 signaling as a promising target for inhibiting BCa bone metastasis.
Zhiying Yue, Xin Niu, Zengjin Yuan, Qin Qin, Wenhao Jiang, Liang He, Jingduo Gao, Yi Ding, Yanxi Liu, Ziwei Xu, Zhenxi Li, Zhengfeng Yang, Rong Li, Xiwen Xue, Yankun Gao, Fei Yue, Xiang H.-F. Zhang, Guohong Hu, Yi Wang, Yi Li, Geng Chen, Stefan Siwko, Alison Gartland, Ning Wang, Jianru Xiao, Mingyao Liu, Jian Luo