Analysis of the Runx2 promoter in osseous and non-osseous cells and identification of HIF2A as a potent transcription activator.

Tamiya H, Ikeda T, Jeong JH, Saito T, Yano F, Jung YK, Ohba S, Kawaguchi H, Chung UI, Choi JY

Little is known about the upstream regulator of Runx2, a master regulator of osteoblast differentiation in bone tissues. To elucidate the molecular mechanism of Runx2 gene expression, we analyzed Runx2 promoter activity in osseous (MC3T3-E1, KS483, Kusa) and non-osseous (NIH3T3, C3H10T1/2, mouse embryonic fibroblasts) cells and also identified Runx2 upstream regulator using a Runx2 promoter-derived luciferase reporter system. After cloning 15 serial deletion constructs from -6832 bp/+390 bp to -37 bp/+390 bp of the Runx2-P1 promoter, we performed a transient transfection assay in osseous and non-osseous cells. A reduction in Runx2 promoter activity was observed in two regions; one was between -3 kb and -1 kb, and the other was between -155 bp and -75 bp. The step-down pattern in promoter activity between -3 kb and -1 kb was observed only in osseous cells. Interestingly, the step-down pattern between -155 bp and -75 bp was revealed in both cell types. Consistently, beta-galactosidase staining in axial skeleton of -3 kb-Runx2-P1-LacZ transgenic mice was positive, but that of all skeletal tissues of -1 kb-Runx2-P1-LacZ transgenic mice was negative. To identify upstream regulators of the Runx2-P1 promoter, we screened 100 transcription factors using Runx2-P1-luciferase reporter constructs in NIH3T3 fibroblasts and HeLa cells. Among them, HIF2A was identified as the strongest activator of Runx2-P1 promoter activity. A HIF2A-responsive site on the Runx2 promoter was identified between -106 bp and -104 bp by mutation analysis. An electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay confirmed the binding of HIF2A to the Runx2-P1 promoter in vitro and in vivo, respectively. Knock-down using siRNA against HIF2A confirmed that HIF2A is an important regulator of Runx2 gene expression. Collectively, these results suggest that the region between -3 kb and -1 kb is required for the minimal skeletal tissue-specific expression of Runx2, and that the region between -155 bp and -75 bp is important for its basal transcription, which may be in part mediated by HIF2A in bone tissues.

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June, 2008



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