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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jul 5;271(27):16422-9.

Identification of a TAAT-containing motif required for high level expression of the COL1A1 promoter in differentiated osteoblasts of transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, the Department.


Our previous studies have shown that the 49-base pair region of promoter DNA between -1719 and -1670 base pairs is necessary for transcription of the rat COL1A1 gene in transgenic mouse calvariae. In this study, we further define this element to the 13-base pair region between -1683 and -1670. This element contains a TAAT motif that binds homeodomain-containing proteins. Site-directed mutagenesis of this element in the context of a COL1A1-chloramphenicol acetyltransferase construct extending to -3518 base pairs decreased the ratio of reporter gene activity in calvariae to tendon from 3:1 to 1:1, suggesting a preferential effect on activity in calvariae. Moreover, chloramphenicol acetyltransferase-specific immunofluorescence microscopy of transgenic calvariae showed that the mutation preferentially reduced levels of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase protein in differentiated osteoblasts. Gel mobility shift assays demonstrate that differentiated osteoblasts contain a nuclear factor that binds to this site. This binding activity is not present in undifferentiated osteoblasts. We show that Msx2, a homeodomain protein, binds to this motif; however, Northern blot analysis revealed that Msx2 mRNA is present in undifferentiated bone cells but not in fully differentiated osteoblasts. In addition, cotransfection studies in ROS 17/2.8 osteosarcoma cells using an Msx2 expression vector showed that Msx2 inhibits a COL1A1 promoter-chloramphenicol acetyltransferase construct. Our results suggest that high COL1A1 expression in bone is mediated by a protein that is induced during osteoblast differentiation. This protein may contain a homeodomain; however, it is distinct from homeodomain proteins reported previously to be present in bone.

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