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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Smad-Runx interactions during chondrocyte maturation.

BACKGROUND: Intracellular signaling triggered by bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) results in activated Smad complexes that regulate transcription of BMP-responsive genes. However, the low specificity of Smad binding to regulatory sequences implies that additional tissue-specific transcription factors are also needed. Runx2 (Cbfal) is a transcription factor required for bone formation. We have examined the role of Smads and Runx2 in BMP induction of type X collagen, which is a marker of chondrocyte hypertrophy leading to endochondral bone formation. METHODS: Pre-hypertrophic chondrocytes from the cephalic portion of the chick embryo sternum were placed in culture in the presence or absence of rhBMP-2. Cultures were transiently transfected with DNA containing the BMP-responsive type X collagen promoter upstream of the luciferase gene. The cultures were also transfected with plasmids, causing over-expression of Smads or Runx2, or both. After 24-48 hours, cell extracts were examined for levels of luciferase expression. RESULTS: In the presence of BMP-2, chondrocytes over-expressing BMP-activated Smadl or Smad5 showed significant enhancement of luciferase production compared with that seen with BMP alone. This enhancement was not observed with over-expression of Smad2, a transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta)-activated Smad. Overexpression of Runx2 in BMP-treated cultures increased transcriptional activity to levels similar to those seen with Smads 1 or 5. When chondrocytes were simultaneously transfected with both Runx2 and Smad 1 or 5, promoter activity was further increased, indicating that BMP-stimulated Smad activity can be augmented by increasing the levels of Runx2. CONCLUSIONS: These results implicate the skeletal tissue transcription factor Runx2 in regulation of chondrocyte hypertrophy and suggest that maximal transcription of the type X collagen gene in pre-hypertrophic chondrocytes involves interaction of BMP-stimulated Smads with Runx2. Clinical Relevance: Many skeletal abnormalities are associated with impaired regulation of chondrocyte hypertrophy in growth plates. These studies demonstrate that both BMP-activated Smads and Runx2 levels can modulate chondrocyte transition to hypertrophy.[1]


  1. Smad-Runx interactions during chondrocyte maturation. Leboy, P., Grasso-Knight, G., D'Angelo, M., Volk, S.W., Lian, J.V., Drissi, H., Stein, G.S., Adams, S.L. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume. (2001) [Pubmed]
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