The spermatogenesis associated 4 gene (Spata4, previously named TSARG2) was demonstrated to participate in spermatogenesis. Here we report that Spata4 is expressed in osteoblasts and that overexpression of Spata4 accelerates osteoblast differentiation and mineralization in MC3T3-E1 cells. We found that Spata4 interacts with p-Erk1/2 in the cytoplasm and that overexpression of Spata4 enhances the phosphorylation of Erk1/2. Intriguingly, we observed that Spata4 increases the transcriptional activity of Runx2, a critical transcription factor regulating osteoblast differentiation. We showed that Spata4-activated Runx2 is through the activation of Erk1/2. Consistent with this observation, we found that overexpression of Spata4 increases the expression of osteoblastic marker genes, including osteocalcin (Ocn), Bmp2, osteopontin (Opn), type 1 collagen, osterix (Osx), and Runx2. We concluded that Spata4 promotes osteoblast differentiation and mineralization through the Erk-activated Runx2 pathway. Our findings provided new evidence that Spata4 plays a role in regulation of osteoblast differentiation.
Copyright © 2011 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.