PloS one

SOX9 regulates multiple genes in chondrocytes, including genes encoding ECM proteins, ECM modification enzymes, receptors, and transporters.

PMID 25229425


The transcription factor SOX9 plays an essential role in determining the fate of several cell types and is a master factor in regulation of chondrocyte development. Our aim was to determine which genes in the genome of chondrocytes are either directly or indirectly controlled by SOX9. We used RNA-Seq to identify genes whose expression levels were affected by SOX9 and used SOX9 ChIP-Seq to identify those genes that harbor SOX9-interaction sites. For RNA-Seq, the RNA expression profile of primary Sox9flox/flox mouse chondrocytes infected with Ad-CMV-Cre was compared with that of the same cells infected with a control adenovirus. Analysis of RNA-Seq data indicated that, when the levels of Sox9 mRNA were decreased more than 8-fold by infection with Ad-CMV-Cre, 196 genes showed a decrease in expression of at least 4-fold. These included many cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) genes and a number of genes for ECM modification enzymes (transferases), membrane receptors, transporters, and others. In ChIP-Seq, 75% of the SOX9-interaction sites had a canonical inverted repeat motif within 100 bp of the top of the peak. SOX9-interaction sites were found in 55% of the genes whose expression was decreased more than 8-fold in SOX9-depleted cells and in somewhat fewer of the genes whose expression was reduced more than 4-fold, suggesting that these are direct targets of SOX9. The combination of RNA-Seq and ChIP-Seq has provided a fuller understanding of the SOX9-controlled genetic program of chondrocytes.