Development (Cambridge, England)

AP-1 family members act with Sox9 to promote chondrocyte hypertrophy.

PMID 27471255


An analysis of Sox9 binding profiles in developing chondrocytes identified marked enrichment of an AP-1-like motif. Here, we have explored the functional interplay between Sox9 and AP-1 in mammalian chondrocyte development. Among AP-1 family members, Jun and Fosl2 were highly expressed within prehypertrophic and early hypertrophic chondrocytes. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) showed a striking overlap in Jun- and Sox9-bound regions throughout the chondrocyte genome, reflecting direct binding of each factor to the same enhancers and a potential for protein-protein interactions within AP-1- and Sox9-containing complexes. In vitro reporter analysis indicated that direct co-binding of Sox9 and AP-1 at target motifs promoted gene activity. By contrast, where only one factor can engage its DNA target, the presence of the other factor suppresses target activation consistent with protein-protein interactions attenuating transcription. Analysis of prehypertrophic chondrocyte removal of Sox9 confirmed the requirement of Sox9 for hypertrophic chondrocyte development, and in vitro and ex vivo analyses showed that AP-1 promotes chondrocyte hypertrophy. Sox9 and Jun co-bound and co-activated a Col10a1 enhancer in Sox9 and AP-1 motif-dependent manners consistent with their combined action promoting hypertrophic gene expression. Together, the data support a model in which AP-1 family members contribute to Sox9 action in the transition of chondrocytes to the hypertrophic program.