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The transcription factor Runx2 is the key factor that regulates osteogenic differention and bone development. It has been reported that the C2C12 mesenchymal cells can be induced to differentiate into osteoblasts by Runx2 overexpression, but the molecular mechanism of induction is still largely unclear.


To investigate the role of the members of the miR-376 family during Runx2-induced osteogenic differentiation in C2C12 cells.


The expression of the members of the miR-376 family was detected by real-time quantitative PCR at different time points using C2C12/Runx2Dox sub-line with conditional Runx2 expression. In miR-376b-3p-transfected C2C12/Runx2Dox cells, the expression of osteoblast markers, such as alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin, was detected by real-time quantitative PCR, and the alkaline phosphatase activity was also examined by alkaline phosphatase staining. The putative miR-376b-3p targets were commonly predicted by online tools (miRanda, miRWalk and TargetScan). The functional classification of these putative targets was performed by DAVID Bioinformatics Resources database.


The expression of miR-376b-3p was significantly increased during Runx2-induced osteogenic differentiation of C2C12 cells, but the expression of other members was not changed. Transfection of miR-376b-3p mimic upregulated alkaline phosphatase expression, but had no effect on osteocalcin expression. The alkaline phosphatase activity was also increased by transfection of miR-376b-3p. The functional classification of miR-376b-3p putative targets showed that miR-376b-3p is involved in the skeleton development, indicating the role of miR-376b-3p in osteoblast differentiation. Taken together, these results suggest that Runx2 promotes early osteogenic differentiation in C2C12 cells by regulating the expression of genes related to osteogenic differentiation through upregulation of miR-376b-3p.

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