Osteoclasts are the specialised cells that resorb bone matrix and are important both during the growth and shaping of bones during development as well as during the process of bone remodelling that occurs throughout life to maintain a healthy skeleton. Osteoclast formation, function and survival are tightly regulated by a network of signalling pathways, many of which have been identified through the study of rare monogenic diseases, knockout mouse models and animal strains carrying naturally occurring mutations in key molecules. In this review we describe the processes of osteoclast formation, activation and function and discuss the major transcription factors and signalling pathways (including those that control the cytoskeletal rearrangements) that are important at each stage.
- bone formation and resorption
- cytoskeletal proteins
- transcription factors
- intracellular signalling