Mutations in sorting nexin 10 (Snx10) have recently been found to account for roughly 4% of all human malignant osteopetrosis, some of them fatal. To study the disease pathogenesis, we investigated the expression of Snx10 and created mouse models in which Snx10 was knocked down globally or knocked out in osteoclasts. Endocytosis is severely defective in Snx10-deficent osteoclasts, as is extracellular acidification, ruffled border formation, and bone resorption. We also discovered that Snx10 is highly expressed in stomach epithelium, with mutations leading to high stomach pH and low calcium solubilization. Global Snx10-deficiency in mice results in a combined phenotype: osteopetrosis (due to osteoclast defect) and rickets (due to high stomach pH and low calcium availability, resulting in impaired bone mineralization). Osteopetrorickets, the paradoxical association of insufficient mineralization in the context of a positive total body calcium balance, is thought to occur due to the inability of the osteoclasts to maintain normal calcium–phosphorus homeostasis. However, osteoclast-specific Snx10 knockout had no effect on calcium balance, and therefore led to severe osteopetrosis without rickets. Moreover, supplementation with calcium gluconate rescued mice from the rachitic phenotype and dramatically extended life span in global Snx10-deficient mice, suggesting that this may be a life-saving component of the clinical approach to Snx10-dependent human osteopetrosis that has previously gone unrecognized. We conclude that tissue-specific effects of Snx10 mutation need to be considered in clinical approaches to this disease entity. Reliance solely on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation can leave hypocalcemia uncorrected with sometimes fatal consequences. These studies established an essential role for Snx10 in bone homeostasis and underscore the importance of gastric acidification in calcium uptake.
We found that Snx10, a molecule expressed in osteoclasts, was also expressed in the stomach. Studies in tissue specific or global knock-down mice showed that Snx10 deficiency resulted in a phenotype that was a consequence of deficiencies in both osteoclasts and gastric zymogenic cells. Our studies add to a growing list of genes, including atp6i ( Tcirg1), whose expression is required both in bone and stomach to maintain normal gastric acidification and calcium absorption. This work provides additional insight into the mechanisms governing the regulation of bone accrual by the gastrointestinal tract. Because osteopetrorickets has not been described clinically in Snx10-related osteopetrosis, these findings highlight the importance of considering impaired acidification in both stomach and bone in osteopetrotic patients with mutations in SNX10 and other genes with similar patterns of expression and activities. Because defects in gastric differentiation and/or gastric acidification may cause or contribute to hypocalcemia, bone insufficiency, and early death, our results suggest that dietary calcium supplementation could be a life-saving intervention in these patients.