SRY-box 9 (SOX9) is a master transcription factor that regulates cartilage development. SOX9 haploinsufficiency resulting from breakpoints in a ∼1-Mb region upstream of SOX9 was reported in acampomelic campomelic dysplasia (ACD) patients, suggesting that essential enhancer regions of SOX9 for cartilage development are located in this long non-coding sequence. However, the cis-acting enhancer region regulating cartilage-specific SOX9 expression remains to be identified. To identify distant cartilage Sox9 enhancers, we utilized the combination of multiple CRISPR/Cas9 technologies including enrichment of the promoter-enhancer complex followed by next-generation sequencing and mass spectrometry (MS), SIN3A-dCas9-mediated epigenetic silencing, and generation of enhancer deletion mice. As a result, we could identify a critical far-upstream cis-element and Stat3 as a trans-acting factor, regulating cartilage-specific Sox9 expression and subsequent skeletal development. Our strategy could facilitate definitive ACD diagnosis and should be useful to reveal the detailed chromatin conformation and regulation.
Keywords: ACD; CRISPR; SRY-box 9; Sox9; Stat3; acampomelic campomelic dysplasia; cartilage; clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats; enhancer; signal transducer and activator of transcription 3; transcription complex.
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