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Cell Metab. 2009 Mar;9(3):287-302. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2009.01.013.

Pref-1 regulates mesenchymal cell commitment and differentiation through Sox9.

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Department of Nutritional Science and Toxicology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Pref-1 is an EGF repeat-containing transmembrane protein that produces a biologically active soluble form by TACE-mediated cleavage. Although Pref-1 inhibition of adipogenesis has been well established, the specific target(s) of Pref-1 or the Pref-1 function in mesenchymal cell commitment/differentiation are not known. Here, we show that Sox9 downregulation is required for adipocyte differentiation and that Pref-1 inhibits adipocyte differentiation through upregulating Sox9 expression. Sox9 directly binds to the promoter regions of C/EBPbeta and C/EBPdelta to suppress their promoter activity, preventing adipocyte differentiation. Furthermore, we also show that, by inducing Sox9, Pref-1 promotes chondrogenic induction of mesenchymal cells but prevents chondrocyte maturation as well as osteoblast differentiation, with supporting in vivo evidence in Pref-1 null and Pref-1 transgenic mice. Thus, Sox9 is a Pref-1 target, and Pref-1 directs multipotent mesenchymal cells to the chondrogenic lineage but inhibits differentiation into adipocytes as well as osteoblasts and chondrocytes.

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