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J Bone Miner Res. 1995 Jan;10(1):157-63.

Characterization of structural sequences in the chicken osteocalcin gene: expression of osteocalcin by maturing osteoblasts and by hypertrophic chondrocytes in vitro.

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Department of Oral Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Osteocalcin is one of the major noncollagenous proteins specific to mineralized connective tissues of vertebrates. A cDNA clone encoding the chicken osteocalcin gene was isolated, and the complete coding sequence for the 97-amino-acid pre-pro-osteocalcin was deduced. The 48-amino-acid pre-pro-peptide contains the expected hydrophobic leader sequence and the dibasic Lys-Arg sequence preceding the NH2-terminal His of the mature 49-amino-acid chicken osteocalcin, which is believed to be necessary for pro-peptide cleavage. The pro-peptide sequence also contains the expected motif of polar and hydrophobic residues, including Phe at -16, which targets vitamin K-dependent gamma-carboxylation of the three specific Glu residues at positions 17, 21, and 24 in the mature protein. Northern blots of total RNA were prepared from embryonic and adult chicken tissues (bone, brain, heart, intestine, kidney, muscle) and probed with chicken osteocalcin cDNA. The appearance of a single 0.5 kb mRNA species confirms that bone is the major site of osteocalcin expression in vivo. In primary osteoblasts isolated from 17-day embryonic chicken calvaria, an osteocalcin mRNA of similar size is expressed concurrently with culture mineralization in vitro. Hypertrophic chondrocytes from 12-day ventral vertebrae and from the cephalic half of 17-day caudal sternae also express osteocalcin mRNA, but nonhypertrophic chondrocytes from the caudal half of 17-day sternae do not express osteocalcin mRNA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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