After twenty years of searching, Toronto researchers have located a gene in mice called opgl, that can activate mature osteoclasts and mediate osteoclastogenesis. The tumour-necrosis-factor family molecule osteoprotegerin ligand (OPGL), is an important factor for osteoclast maturation in vivo. Mice who lack the opgl gene exhibited severe osteopetrosis, stunted growth, defective tooth eruption and a complete lack of lymph nodes. Scientists also discovered that the gene was necessary for T- and B-cell maturation. Interestingly researchers found that OPGL secreted from activated T cells may "directly modulate osteoclastogenesis and the activity of mature osteoclasts." Although the implications of this discovery for humans are as yet undetermined, this may bring scientists one step closer to finding a cure for osteoporosis and T-cell-mediated arthritis.
For the full article see Nature 1999;397:315-23.