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Dev Cell. 2007 Mar;12(3):377-89.

MEF2C transcription factor controls chondrocyte hypertrophy and bone development.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


Chondrocyte hypertrophy is essential for endochondral bone development. Unexpectedly, we discovered that MEF2C, a transcription factor that regulates muscle and cardiovascular development, controls bone development by activating the gene program for chondrocyte hypertrophy. Genetic deletion of Mef2c or expression of a dominant-negative MEF2C mutant in endochondral cartilage impairs hypertrophy, cartilage angiogenesis, ossification, and longitudinal bone growth in mice. Conversely, a superactivating form of MEF2C causes precocious chondrocyte hypertrophy, ossification of growth plates, and dwarfism. Endochondral bone formation is exquisitely sensitive to the balance between MEF2C and the corepressor histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4), such that bone deficiency of Mef2c mutant mice can be rescued by an Hdac4 mutation, and ectopic ossification in Hdac4 null mice can be diminished by a heterozygous Mef2c mutation. These findings reveal unexpected commonalities in the mechanisms governing muscle, cardiovascular, and bone development with respect to their regulation by MEF2 and class II HDACs.

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