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J Biol Chem. 2012 Jan 6;287(2):905-15. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.253187. Epub 2011 Nov 18.

BMP2 protein regulates osteocalcin expression via Runx2-mediated Atf6 gene transcription.

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Dental Science Research Institute and BK21, School of Dentistry, Chonnam National University, Gwangju 500-757, Republic of Korea.


Bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) activates unfolded protein response (UPR) transducers, such as PERK and OASIS, in osteoblast cells. ATF6, a bZIP transcription factor, is also a UPR transducer. However, the involvement of ATF6 in BMP2-induced osteoblast differentiation has not yet been elucidated. In the present study, BMP2 treatment was shown to markedly induce the expression and activation of ATF6 with an increase in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and OC expression in MC3T3E1 cells. In contrast, ATF6 activation by BMP2 was not observed in the Runx2(-/-) primary calvarial osteoblasts, and Runx2 overexpression recovered BMP2 action. BMP2 stimulated ATF6 transcription by enhancing the direct binding of Runx2 to the osteoblast-specific cis-acting element 2 (OSE2, ACCACA, -205 to -200 bp) motif of the Atf6 promoter region. In addition, the overexpression of ATF6 increased the Oc promoter activity by enhancing the direct binding to a putative ATF6 binding motif (TGACGT, -1126 to -1121 bp). The inhibition of ATF6 function with the dominant negative form of ATF6 (DN-ATF6) blocked BMP2- or Runx2-induced OC expression. Interestingly, OASIS, which is structurally similar to ATF6, did not induce Oc expression. ALP and Alizarin red staining results confirmed that BMP2-induced matrix mineralization was also dependent on ATF6 in vitro. Overall, these results suggest that BMP2 induces osteoblast differentiation through Runx2-dependent ATF6 expression, which directly regulates Oc transcription.

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