The transcriptional activity of osterix requires the recruitment of Sp1 to the osteocalcin proximal promoter

Corinne Niger, Florence Lima, David J. Yoo, Rishi R. Gupta, Atum M. Buo, Carla Hebert, Joseph P. Stains

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The transcription factor osterix (Osx/Sp7) is required for osteogenic differentiation and bone formation in vivo. While Osx can act at canonical Sp1 DNA-binding sites and/or interact with NFATc1 to cooperatively regulate transcription in some osteoblast promoters, little is known about the molecular details by which Osx regulates osteocalcin (OCN) transcription. We previously identified in the OCN proximal promoter a minimal C/T-rich motif, termed OCN-CxRE (connexin-response element) that binds Sp1 and Sp3 in a gap junction-dependent manner. In the present study, we hypothesized that Osx could act via this non-canonical Sp1/Sp3-binding element to regulate OCN transcription. OCN promoter luciferase reporter assays show that Osx alone is an insufficient activator that requires Sp1, but not Sp3, to synergistically stimulate OCN promoter activity. Moreover, promoter deletion analyses demonstrate that both the Sp1/Sp3-binding OCN-CxRE (-70 to - 57) and the - 92 to - 87 region of the OCN proximal promoter are critical for Osx/Sp1 synergistic activities. Our data show that Sp1 influences Osx activity by enhancing Osx occupancy on the OCN promoter, perhaps via physical interactions between the two transcription factors. Finally, alteration of the expression of the gap junction protein connexin43 modulates the recruitment of both Sp1 and Osx to the OCN promoter. In total, our data are strongly in support of Sp1 as an essential transcription factor required for Osx recruitment and transactivation of the OCN promoter. Further, these data lend insight into a mechanism by which alteration of connexin43 impacts osteogenesis in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-692
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by a grant (AR052719) from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.


  • Gap junction
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteocalcin
  • Osterix
  • Sp1
  • Sp3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology


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