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J Cell Biochem. 2009 Sep 1;108(1):216-24. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22243.

miR-29 suppression of osteonectin in osteoblasts: regulation during differentiation and by canonical Wnt signaling.

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Center for Molecular Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Ave, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


The matricellular protein osteonectin, secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC, BM-40), is the most abundant non-collagenous matrix protein in bone. Matricellular proteins play a fundamental role in the skeleton as regulators of bone remodeling. In the skeleton, osteonectin is essential for the maintenance of bone mass and for balancing bone formation and resorption in response to parathyroid hormone (PTH). It promotes osteoblast differentiation and cell survival. Mechanisms regulating the expression of osteonectin in the skeleton and in other tissues remain poorly understood. We found that the proximal region of the mouse osteonectin 3' untranslated region (UTR) contains a well-conserved, dominant regulatory motif that interacts with microRNAs (miRs)-29a and -29c. Transfection of osteoblastic cells with miR-29a inhibitors increased osteonectin protein levels, whereas transfection of miR-29a precursor RNA decreased osteonectin. miR-29a and -29c were increased during osteoblastic differentiation in vitro. The up-regulation of these miRNAs correlated with decreased osteonectin protein during the matrix maturation and mineralization phases of late differentiation. In contrast, osteonectin transcript levels remained relatively constant during this process, implying repression of translation. Treatment of osteoblasts with LiCl induced miR-29a and -29c expression and decreased osteonectin synthesis. When cells were treated with Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1), miR-29a and -29c expression was repressed. These data suggest that canonical Wnt signaling, which is increased during osteoblastic differentiation, induces expression of miR-29. Osteonectin and miR-29 are co-expressed in extra-skeletal tissues, and the post-transcriptional mechanisms regulating osteonectin in osteoblasts are likely to be active in other cell systems.

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