The steroid hormone 1,25-(OH)2-vitamin D3 (VD3) regulates osteoblast differentiation by either activating or repressing transcription of numerous bone phenotypic genes. We addressed whether VD3 also influences osteogenesis by controlling activity of the runt-related transcription factor Runx2/Cbfa1, a key regulator of bone formation in vivo. Our data showed that expression of Runx2 was downregulated by VD3 within 24 h in MC3T3 and ROS 17/2.8, but not in ROS 24.1 cells, which lack a functional vitamin D receptor (VDR). Transient transfection assays showed that the initial 0.6 kb of the bone-related rat and mouse Runx2 promoters both exhibited a 50% reduction of promoter activity in response to VD3 in osteoblastic cells. Furthermore, VD3 inhibited Runx2 transcription in ROS 24.1 cells only upon forced expression of the VDR. Gel mobility shift assays with antibodies and oligonucleotide competition experiments demonstrated that proximal promoter sequences (-92 to -16) contain a functional VD3-responsive element (VDRE) that binds a VDR/retinoid X receptor heterodimer. Mutation of this VDRE completely abolished responsiveness of the Runx2 promoter to VD3 treatment. Together these studies establish that Runx2 expression is regulated by VD3. This VD3-mediated suppression of Runx2 activity provides regulatory coupling between tissue-specific and steroid hormone-dependent control of genes during bone formation.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).