Dynamic and distinct histone modifications of osteogenic genes during osteogenic differentiation

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Many skeletal diseases have common pathological phenotype of defective osteogenesis of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs), in which histone modifications play an important role. However, few studies have examined the dynamics of distinct histone modifications during osteogenesis. In this study, we examined the dynamics of H3K9/K14 and H4K12 acetylation; H3K4 mono-, di- and tri-methylation; H3K9 di-methylation and H3K27 tri-methylation in osteogenic genes, runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2), osterix (Osx), alkaline phosphatase, bone sialoprotein and osteocalcin, during C3H10T1/2 osteogenesis. H3 and H4 acetylation and H3K4 di-methylation were elevated, and H3K9 di-methylation and H3K27 tri-methylation were reduced in osteogenic genes during C3H10T1/2 osteogenesis. C3H10T1/2 osteogenesis could be modulated by altering the patterns of H3 and H4 acetylation and H3K27 tri-methylation. In a glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis mouse model, we observed the attenuation of osteogenic potential of osteoporotic BMSCs in parallel with H3 and H4 hypo-acetylation and H3K27 hyper-tri-methylation in Runx2 and Osx genes. When H3 and H4 acetylation was elevated, and H3K27 tri-methylation was reduced, the attenuated osteogenic potential of osteoporotic BMSCs was rescued effectively. These observations provide a deeper insight into the mechanisms of osteogenic differentiation and the pathophysiology of osteoporosis and can be used to design new drugs and develop new therapeutic methods to treat skeletal diseases.

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