Controlling osteoclastogenesis is critical to maintain physiological bone homeostasis and prevent skeletal disorders. Although signaling activating nuclear factor of activated T cells 1 (NFATc1), a transcription factor essential for osteoclastogenesis, has been intensively investigated, factors antagonistic to NFATc1 in osteoclasts have not been characterized. Here, we describe a novel pathway that maintains bone homeostasis via two transcriptional repressors, B cell lymphoma 6 (Bcl6) and B lymphocyte-induced maturation protein-1 (Blimp1). We show that Bcl6 directly targets 'osteoclastic' molecules such as NFATc1, cathepsin K, and dendritic cell-specific transmembrane protein (DC-STAMP), all of which are targets of NFATc1. Bcl6-overexpression inhibited osteoclastogenesis in vitro, whereas Bcl6-deficient mice showed accelerated osteoclast differentiation and severe osteoporosis. We report that Bcl6 is a direct target of Blimp1 and that mice lacking Blimp1 in osteoclasts exhibit osteopetrosis caused by impaired osteoclastogenesis resulting from Bcl6 up-regulation. Indeed, mice doubly mutant in Blimp1 and Bcl6 in osteoclasts exhibited decreased bone mass with increased osteoclastogenesis relative to osteoclast-specific Blimp1-deficient mice. These results reveal a Blimp1-Bcl6-osteoclastic molecule axis, which critically regulates bone homeostasis by controlling osteoclastogenesis and may provide a molecular basis for novel therapeutic strategies.
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