Runx2-mediated activation of the Bax gene increases osteosarcoma cell sensitivity to apoptosis

Oncogene. 2008 Jun 5;27(25):3605-14. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1211020. Epub 2008 Jan 28.


The Runx family of transcription factors regulate cell growth and differentiation, and control the expression of target genes involved in cell fate decisions. We examined the role of the bone-related member of this family, Runx2, in regulating apoptosis via modulation of the Bcl2 family of genes in the osteosarcoma cell line Saos2. Our data demonstrate that Runx2 directly binds to two Runx-specific regulatory elements on the human bax promoter thereby inducing Bax expression. Furthermore, bone morphogenetic protein-induced or vector-mediated expression of Runx2 resulted in upregulation of Bax expression, and subsequent increased sensitivity of Saos2 cells to apoptosis. Finally, the observed upregulation of Bax expression and increased apoptosis were Runx2 dependent as Runx2 loss of function abrogated these effects. Our study provides the first evidence for Bax as a direct target of Runx2, suggesting that Runx2 may act as a proapoptotic factor in osteosarcoma cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 1 Subunit / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Osteosarcoma / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism*


  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 1 Subunit
  • RUNX2 protein, human
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Caspase 3