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Mol Vis. 2004 Oct 7;10:758-72.

Analysis of transcriptional regulation of the small leucine rich proteoglycans.

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  • 1Kansas State University, Division of Biology, Manhattan, KS 66506-4901, USA.



Small leucine rich proteoglycans (SLRPs) constitute a family of secreted proteoglycans that are important for collagen fibrillogenesis, cellular growth, differentiation, and migration. Ten of the 13 known members of the SLRP gene family are arranged in tandem clusters on human chromosomes 1, 9, and 12. Their syntenic equivalents are on mouse chromosomes 1, 13, and 10, and rat chromosomes 13, 17, and 7. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is evidence for control elements, which could regulate the expression of these clusters coordinately.


Promoters were identified using a comparative genomics approach and Genomatix software tools. For each gene a set of human, mouse, and rat orthologous promoters was extracted from genomic sequences. Transcription factor (TF) binding site analysis combined with a literature search was performed using MatInspector and Genomatix' BiblioSphere. Inspection for the presence of interspecies conserved scaffold/matrix attachment regions (S/MARs) was performed using ElDorado annotation lists. DNAseI hypersensitivity assay, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), and transient transfection experiments were used to validate the results from bioinformatics analysis.


Transcription factor binding site analysis combined with a literature search revealed co-citations between several SLRPs and TFs Runx2 and IRF1, indicating that these TFs have potential roles in transcriptional regulation of the SLRP family members. We therefore inspected all of the SLRP promoter sets for matches to IRF factors and Runx factors. Positionally conserved binding sites for the Runt domain TFs were detected in the proximal promoters of chondroadherin (CHAD) and osteomodulin (OMD) genes. Two significant models (two or more transcription factor binding sites arranged in a defined order and orientation within a defined distance range) were derived from these initial promoter sets, the HOX-Runx (homeodomain-Runt domain), and the ETS-FKHD-STAT (erythroblast transformation specific-forkhead-signal transducers and activators of transcription) models. These models were used to scan the genomic sequences of all 13 SLRP genes. The HOX-Runx model was found within the proximal promoter, exon 1, or intron 1 sequences of 11 of the 13 SLRP genes. The ETS-FKHD-STAT model was found in only 5 of these genes. Transient transfections of MG-63 cells and bovine corneal keratocytes with Runx2 isoforms confirmed the relevance of these TFs to expression of several SLRP genes. Distribution of the HOX-Runx and ETS-FKHD-STAT models within 200 kb of genomic sequence on human chromosome 9 and 500 kb sequence on chromosome 12 also were analyzed. Two regions with 3 HOX-Runx matches within a 1,000 bp window were identified on human chromosome 9; one located between OMD and osteoglycin (OGN)/mimecan genes, and the second located upstream of the putative extracellular matrix protein 2 (ECM2) promoter. The intergenic region between OMD and mimecan was shown to coincide with different patterns of DNAse I hypersensitivity sites in MG-63 and U937 cells. ChiP analysis revealed that this region binds Runx2 in U937 cells (mimecan transcript note detectable), but binds Pitx3 in MG-63 cells (expressing high level of mimecan), thereby demonstrating its functional association with mimecan expression. Upon comparing the predictions of S/MARs on the relevant chromosomal context of human chromosomes 9 and 12 and their rodent equivalents, no convincing evidence was found that the tandemly arranged genes build a chromosomal loop.


Twelve of 13 known SLRP genes have at least one HOX-Runx module match in their promoter, exon 1, intron 1, or intergenic region. Although these genes are located in different clusters on different chromosomes, the common HOX-Runx module could be the basis for co-regulated expression.

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