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J Biol Chem. 2012 Jun 22;287(26):22206-15. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.343194. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

L-Sox5 and Sox6 proteins enhance chondrogenic miR-140 microRNA expression by strengthening dimeric Sox9 activity.

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  • 1Department of Systems Biomedicine, National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, 2-10-1 Okura, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-8535, Japan.


Sox9 plays a critical role in early chondrocyte initiation and promotion as well as repression of later maturation. Fellow Sox family members L-Sox5 and Sox6 also function as regulators of cartilage development by boosting Sox9 activation of chondrocyte-specific genes such as Col2a1 and Agc1; however, the regulatory mechanism and other target genes are largely unknown. MicroRNAs are a class of short, non-coding RNAs that act as negative regulators of gene expression by promoting target mRNA degradation and/or repressing translation. Analysis of genetically modified mice identified miR-140 as a cartilage-specific microRNA that could be a critical regulator of cartilage development and homeostasis. Recent findings suggest Sox9 promotes miR-140 expression, although the detailed mechanisms are not fully understood. In this study we demonstrate that the proximal upstream region of pri-miR-140 has chondrogenic promoter activity in vivo. We found an L-Sox5/Sox6/Sox9 (Sox trio) response element and detailed binding site in the promoter region. Furthermore, detailed analysis suggests the DNA binding and/or transactivation ability of Sox9 as a homodimer is boosted by L-Sox5 and Sox6. These findings provide new insight into cartilage-specific gene regulation by the Sox trio.

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