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Reviewed June 2009

What is the official name of the SOST gene?

The official name of this gene is “sclerostin.”

SOST is the gene's official symbol. The SOST gene is also known by other names, listed below.

Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.

What is the normal function of the SOST gene?

The SOST gene provides instructions for making the protein sclerostin. Sclerostin is produced in osteocytes, which are a type of bone cell. The main function of sclerostin is to stop (inhibit) bone formation. The maintenance of bone over time requires a balance between the formation of new bone tissue and the breakdown and removal (resorption) of old bone tissue. Inhibition of bone formation is necessary to ensure that bones are of the correct shape, size, and density. Research suggests that sclerostin exerts its effects by interfering with a process called Wnt signaling, which plays a key role in the regulation of bone formation. Sclerostin may also promote the self-destruction (apoptosis) of bone cells, further inhibiting bone growth.

How are changes in the SOST gene related to health conditions?

SOST-related sclerosing bone dysplasia - caused by mutations in the SOST gene

At least six mutations in or near the SOST gene have been found to cause SOST-related sclerosing bone dysplasia. There are two forms of SOST-related sclerosing bone dysplasia: sclerosteosis and van Buchem disease. Sclerosteosis, the more severe type, is most common in the Afrikaner population of South Africa, while the milder van Buchem disease occurs most often in people of Dutch ancestry.

Most mutations that cause sclerosteosis result in a premature stop signal in the instructions for making sclerostin. These mutations prevent the production of any functional protein.

The most common mutation that causes van Buchem disease in people of Dutch ancestry is a deletion of 52,000 DNA building blocks (nucleotides) in a region of DNA neighboring the SOST gene. This region, called a regulatory region, normally controls the gene's activity (expression). This deletion within the regulatory region reduces the expression of the SOST gene, leading to a shortage of functional sclerostin protein.

A shortage or absence of sclerostin in bone cells disrupts the protein's inhibitory effect on bone growth, causing excessive bone formation. As a result, bones are denser and wider than usual, particularly the bones of the skull. These bone abnormalities are characteristic of SOST-related sclerosing bone dysplasia.

Where is the SOST gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 17q11.2

Molecular Location on chromosome 17: base pairs 43,753,731 to 43,758,788

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBIThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference.)

The SOST gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 17 at position 11.2.

The SOST gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 17 at position 11.2.

More precisely, the SOST gene is located from base pair 43,753,731 to base pair 43,758,788 on chromosome 17.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about SOST?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about SOST helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the SOST gene or gene products?

  • sclerosteosis
  • sclerostin precursor
  • VBCH

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding SOST?

apoptosis ; bone formation ; breakdown ; cell ; deletion ; DNA ; dysplasia ; gene ; mutation ; osteoblast ; osteoclast ; population ; precursor ; protein ; tissue

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (5 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: June 2009
Published: February 1, 2016