Gene expression is dependent not only on genomic sequences, but also epigenetic control, in which the regulation of chromatin by histone modification plays a crucial role. Histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) and histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) are related to transcriptionally activated and silenced sequences, respectively. Osteoclasts, the multinucleated cells that resorb bone, are generated by the fusion of precursor cells of monocyte/macrophage lineage. To elucidate the molecular and epigenetic regulation of osteoclast differentiation, we performed a chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) analysis for H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 in combination with RNA sequencing. We focused on the histone modification change from H3K4me3(+)H3K27me3(+) to H3K4me3(+)H3K27me3(-) and identified the protocadherin-7 gene (Pcdh7) to be among the genes epigenetically regulated during osteoclastogenesis. Pcdh7 was induced by RANKL stimulation in an NFAT-dependent manner. The knockdown of Pcdh7 inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation due to the impairment of cell-cell fusion, accompanied by a decreased expression of the fusion-related genes Dcstamp, Ocstamp and Atp6v0d2. This study demonstrates that Pcdh7 plays a key role in osteoclastogenesis by promoting cell-cell fusion.
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