Myocyte enhancer factor 2C: an osteoblast transcription factor identified by dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) enhanced mineralization

  • Stephens A
  • Stephens S
  • Hobbs C
 et al. 
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Abstract

Rapid mineralization of cultured osteoblasts could be a useful characteristic in stem cell-mediated therapies for fracture and other orthopedic problems. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a small amphipathic solvent molecule capable of stimulating cell differentiation. We report that, in primary human osteoblasts, DMSO dose-dependently enhanced the expression of osteoblast differentiation markers alkaline phosphatase activity and extracellular matrix mineralization. Furthermore, similar DMSO-mediated mineralization enhancement was observed in primary osteoblast-like cells differentiated from mouse mesenchymal cells derived from fat, a promising source of starter cells for cell-based therapy. Using a convenient mouse pre-osteoblast model cell line MC3T3-E1, we further investigated this phenomenon showing that numerous osteoblast-expressed genes were elevated in response to DMSO treatment and correlated with enhanced mineralization. Myocyte enhancer factor 2c (Mef2c) was identified as the transcription factor most induced by DMSO, among the numerous DMSO-induced genes, suggesting a role for Mef2c in osteoblast gene regulation. Immunohistochemistry confirmed expression of Mef2c in osteoblast-like cells in mouse mandible, cortical, and trabecular bone. shRNAi-mediated Mef2c gene silencing resulted in defective osteoblast differentiation, decreased alkaline phosphatase activity, and matrix mineralization and knockdown of osteoblast specific gene expression, including osteocalcin and bone sialoprotein. A flow on knockdown of bone-specific transcription factors, Runx2 and osterix by shRNAi knockdown of Mef2c, suggests that Mef2c lies upstream of these two important factors in the cascade of gene expression in osteoblasts.

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Authors

  • Alexandre S. Stephens

  • Sebastien R. Stephens

  • Carl Hobbs

  • Deitmar W. Hutmacher

  • Desa Bacic-Welsh

  • Maria Ann Woodruff

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