We reported earlier that an interferon-inducible p204 protein serves as a cofactor of Cbfa1 and promotes osteogenesis. Here we establish that p204 demonstrates prominent expression in growth plate chondrocytes. It is differentially expressed in the course of bone morphogenetic protein-2-triggered chondrocyte differentiation of pluripotent C3H10T1/2 cells. This expression is probably due to the activation of p204 gene by Cbfa1 and repression by Sox5 transcription factor. Cbfa1 and Sox5 bind to the 5′-flanking regulatory region of p204 gene at their consensus binding elements. Overexpression of p204 accelerates chondrocyte hypertrophy, as revealed by enhanced expression of type X Collagen and matrix metalloproteinase-13; however, knockdown of p204 via an siRNA approach abolishes hypertrophic chondrocyte differentiation. p204 acts as a cofactor of Cbfa1 in chondrocyte hypertrophy: (1) overexpression of p204 augments, whereas suppression of p204 decreases, the Cbfa1-dependent transactivation of a Collagen X-specific reporter gene; (2) p204 enhances Cbfa1-mediated chondrocyte hypertrophy; and (3) p204 associates with Cbfa1 in chondrocyte differentiation. In addition, altered expression of p204 in chondrocyte hypertrophy was accompanied by altered levels of Indian hedgehog (IHH) and parathyroid hormone/ parathyroid hormone-related peptide receptor-1 (PTHR1). Collectively, p204 is a novel regulator of chondrocyte differentiation by (1) acting as a coactivator of Cbfa1 and (2) affecting IHH/PTPrP signaling.
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Acknowledgements. We thank Dr. J Patrick O’Connor for Collagen X reporter gene, and Drs. Kosei Ito and Yoneda Toshiyuki for constructs expressing PeBP2a (Cbfa1), Dr. Renny Franceschi for adenovirus encoding Cbfa1, Dr. Yiming Cheng for data statistical analysis and Anne Undersander for preparation of the immunohistochemistry sections. This work was aided by NIH research grants AR050620 (C-j Liu), AR052022 (C-j Liu), AR053210 (C-j Liu), AG029388 (C-j Liu) and RR14099 (CS Carlson) and a grant from Arthritis National Research Foundation (C-j Liu).