Chondrocyte gene regulation is important for the generation and maintenance of cartilage tissues. Several regulatory factors have been identified that play a role in chondrogenesis, including the positive transacting factors of the SOX family such as SOX9, SOX5, and SOX6, as well as negative transacting factors such as C/EBP and delta EF1. However, a complete understanding of the intricate regulatory network that governs the tissue-specific expression of cartilage genes is not yet available. We have taken a computational approach to identify cis-regulatory, transcription factor (TF) binding motifs in a set of cartilage characteristic genes to better define the transcriptional regulatory networks that regulate chondrogenesis. Our computational methods have identified several TFs, whose binding profiles are available in the TRANSFAC database, as important to chondrogenesis. In addition, a cartilage-specific SOX-binding profile was constructed and used to identify both known, and novel, functional paired SOX-binding motifs in chondrocyte genes. Using DNA pattern-recognition algorithms, we have also identified cis-regulatory elements for unknown TFs. We have validated our computational predictions through mutational analyses in cell transfection experiments. One novel regulatory motif, N1, found at high frequency in the COL2A1 promoter, was found to bind to chondrocyte nuclear proteins. Mutational analyses suggest that this motif binds a repressive factor that regulates basal levels of the COL2A1 promoter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1438-1447
Number of pages10
JournalGenome research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007


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