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J Cell Biochem. 1996 May;61(2):310-24.

Bone tissue-specific transcription of the osteocalcin gene: role of an activator osteoblast-specific complex and suppressor hox proteins that bind the OC box.

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1
Department of Cell Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester 01655, USA.

Abstract

Bone-specific expression of the osteocalcin gene is transcriptionally controlled. Deletion analysis of osteocalcin promoter sequences by transient transfection of osseous (ROS 17/2.8) and nonosseous (R2 fibroblast) cells revealed that the most proximal 108 nucleotides are sufficient to confer tissue-specific expression. By gel mobility shift assays with wild-type and mutated oligonucleotides and nuclear extracts from several different cell lines we identified a novel transcription factor complex which exhibits sequence-specific interactions with the primary transcriptional element, the OC box (nt -99 to -76). This OC box binding protein (OCBP) is present only in osteoblast-like cells. Methylation interference demonstrated association of the factor with OC box sequences overlapping the Msx homeodomain consensus binding site. By assaying several mutations of the OC box, both in gel shift and transient transfection studies using ROS 17/2.8, we show the following. First, binding of OCBP correlates with osteocalcin promoter activity in ROS 17/2.8 cells. Increased binding leads to a 2-3-fold increase in transcription, while decreased binding results in transcription 30-40% of control. Second, homeodomain protein binding suppresses transcription. However, Msx expression is critical for full development of the bone phenotype as determined by antisense studies. Last, we show that one of the mutations of the OC box permits expression of osteocalcin in non-osseous cell lines. In summary, we demonstrate association of at least two classes of tissue-restricted transcription factors with the OC box element, the OCBP and Msx proteins, supporting the concept that these sequences contribute to defining tissue specificity.

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