Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 16 pp 20629—20650
A systematic dissection of human primary osteoblasts in vivo at single-cell resolution
- 1 Tulane Center for Biomedical Informatics and Genomics, Deming Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
- 2 Department of Orthopedics, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China
- 3 Laboratory of Molecular and Statistical Genetics, College of Life Sciences, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
- 4 Center of Reproductive Health, System Biology and Data Information, Institute of Reproductive and Stem Cell Engineering, School of Basic Medical Science, Central South University, Changsha 410081, China
- 5 School of Basic Medical Science, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China
- 6 Xiangya Nursing School, Central South University, Changsha 410013, China
- 7 Department of Orthopedics and National Clinical Research Center for Geriatric Disorders, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China
- 8 Tulane Center for Bioinformatics and Genomics, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
- 9 Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, School of Science and Engineering, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
Received: March 2, 2021 Accepted: June 19, 2021 Published: August 24, 2021https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.203452
How to Cite
Copyright: © 2021 Gong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Human osteoblasts are multifunctional bone cells, which play essential roles in bone formation, angiogenesis regulation, as well as maintenance of hematopoiesis. However, the categorization of primary osteoblast subtypes in vivo in humans has not yet been achieved. Here, we used single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to perform a systematic cellular taxonomy dissection of freshly isolated human osteoblasts from one 31-year-old male with osteoarthritis and osteopenia after hip replacement. Based on the gene expression patterns and cell lineage reconstruction, we identified three distinct cell clusters including preosteoblasts, mature osteoblasts, and an undetermined rare osteoblast subpopulation. This novel subtype was found to be the major source of the nuclear receptor subfamily 4 group A member 1 and 2 (NR4A1 and NR4A2) in primary osteoblasts, and the expression of NR4A1 was confirmed by immunofluorescence staining on mouse osteoblasts in vivo. Trajectory inference analysis suggested that the undetermined cluster, together with the preosteoblasts, are involved in the regulation of osteoblastogenesis and also give rise to mature osteoblasts. Investigation of the biological processes and signaling pathways enriched in each subpopulation revealed that in addition to bone formation, preosteoblasts and undetermined osteoblasts may also regulate both angiogenesis and hemopoiesis. Finally, we demonstrated that there are systematic differences between the transcriptional profiles of human and mouse osteoblasts, highlighting the necessity for studying bone physiological processes in humans rather than solely relying on mouse models. Our findings provide novel insights into the cellular heterogeneity and potential biological functions of human primary osteoblasts at the single-cell level.