Molecular and cellular endocrinology

Notch inhibits chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal progenitor cells by targeting Twist1.

PMID 25596548


While Notch signaling plays a critical role in the regulation of cartilage formation, its downstream targets are unknown. To address this we performed gain and losses of function experiments and demonstrate that Notch inhibition of chondrogenesis acts via up-regulation of the transcription factor Twist1. Upon Notch activation, murine limb bud mesenchymal progenitor cells in micromass culture displayed an inhibition of chondrogenesis. Twist1 was found to be exclusively expressed in mesenchymal progenitor cells at the onset stage of chondrogenesis during Notch activation. Inhibition of Notch signaling in these cells significantly reduced protein expression of Twist1. Furthermore, the inhibition effect of NICD1 on MPC chondrogenesis was markedly reduced by knocking down of Twist1. Constitutively active Notch signaling significantly enhanced Twist1 promoter activity; whereas mutation studies indicated that a putative NICD/RBPjK binding element in the promoter region is required for the Notch-responsiveness of the Twist1 promoter. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation assays further confirmed that the Notch intracellular domain influences Twist1 by directly binding to the Twist1 promoter. These data provide a novel insight into understanding the molecular mechanisms behind Notch inhibition of the onset of chondrogenesis.