The transcription factor scleraxis differentially regulates gene expression in tenocytes isolated at different developmental stages

Mech Dev. 2020 Sep;163:103635. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2020.103635. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


The transcription factor scleraxis (SCX) is expressed throughout tendon development and plays a key role in directing tendon wound healing. However, little is known regarding its role in fetal or young postnatal tendons, stages in development that are known for their enhanced regenerative capabilities. Here we used RNA-sequencing to compare the transcriptome of adult and fetal tenocytes following SCX knockdown. SCX knockdown had a larger effect on gene expression in fetal tenocytes, affecting 477 genes in comparison to the 183 genes affected in adult tenocytes, indicating that scleraxis-dependent processes may differ in these two developmental stages. Gene ontology, network and pathway analysis revealed an overrepresentation of extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling processes within both comparisons. These included several matrix metalloproteinases, proteoglycans and collagens, some of which were also investigated in SCX knockdown tenocytes from young postnatal foals. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation, we also identified novel genes that SCX differentially interacts with in adult and fetal tenocytes. These results indicate a role for SCX in modulating ECM synthesis and breakdown and provide a useful dataset for further study into SCX gene regulation.

Keywords: Chromatin Immunoprecipitation; Gene regulation; Knockdown; Scleraxis; Tendon development; Transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Collagen / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Horses / genetics
  • Horses / growth & development
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA-Seq
  • Tendon Injuries / genetics*
  • Tendon Injuries / pathology
  • Tendons / growth & development
  • Tendons / pathology
  • Tenocytes / metabolism
  • Tenocytes / pathology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcriptome / genetics*
  • Wound Healing / genetics


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SCX protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Collagen