Fam20C is a kinase that generates the majority of secreted phosphoproteins and regulates biomineralization. However, its potential roles in bone resorption and breast cancer bone metastasis are unknown. Here we show that Fam20C in the myeloid lineage suppresses osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption, during which, osteopontin (OPN) is the most abundant phosphoprotein secreted in a Fam20C-dependent manner. OPN phosphorylation by Fam20C decreased OPN secretion, and OPN neutralization reduced Fam20C deficiency–induced osteoclast differentiation and bone metastasis. In contrast, Fam20C in breast cancer cells promoted bone metastasis by facilitating the phosphorylation and secretion of BMP4, which in turn enhanced osteoclastogenesis. Mutation of the BMP4 phosphorylation site elevated BMP4 lysosomal degradation and reduced BMP4 secretion. In breast cancer cells, BMP4 depletion or treatment with a BMP4 signaling inhibitor diminished osteoclast differentiation and bone metastasis and abolished Fam20C-mediated regulation of these processes. Collectively, this study discovers distinct roles for Fam20C in myeloid cells and breast cancer cells and highlights OPN and BMP4 as potential therapeutic targets for breast cancer bone metastasis.


Osteoclastogenesis and bone metastasis are suppressed by myeloid-derived Fam20C, but enhanced by breast cancer–associated Fam20C, uncovering novel Fam20C functions and new therapeutic strategies via targeting Fam20C substrates OPN and BMP4.

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