Matrilin-1 is a non-collagenous protein, which functions in the organization of the extracellular matrix by forming collagen-dependent and -independent filamentous networks. It is secreted primarily by chondrocytes in a characteristic spatial, temporal and developmental stage-specific pattern during skeletogenesis. As a first step to define the tissue- and site-specific regulatory regions of the chicken matrilin-1 gene in vivo, we generated transgenic mice harboring various promoter and intronic fragments fused to the LacZ reporter gene. Histological analysis of the transgene expression pattern during ontogenic development revealed specific X-gal staining in most primordial elements of endochondral bones of transgenic mouse lines carrying either the long promoter between -2011 and +67 or the intronic fragment with a short promoter between -338 and +1819. The cartilage-specific activity of the latter transgene, however, was accompanied with variable ectopic expression pattern in neural and other tissues depending on the site of integration. The presence of both promoter upstream and intronic elements was necessary for the high level transgene activity in all chondrogenic tissues and for the extraskeletal transgene expression pattern resembling the most to that of the chicken matrilin-1 gene, e.g. expression in the eye, and lack of expression in the diminishing notochord and nucleus pulposus. The activity of the transgenes was restricted to the columnar proliferating and pre-hypertrophic chondrocytes visualized by BrdU incorporation and distribution of phosphorylated Sox9, respectively. DNA elements between -2011 and -338 also mediated ectopic LacZ expression in cells of neural crest origin. These results suggest that an interplay of modularly arranged cartilage- and neural crest-specific DNA elements control the expression of the matrilin-1 gene. The dispersal of cartilage-specific elements in the promoter upstream and intronic regions shows similarity to the transcriptional regulation of the Col11a2 gene.
- Tissue and developmental stage-specific regulation
- Transgenic mice
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology