Type II collagen is a key cartilaginous extracellular protein required for normal endochondral development and cartilage homeostasis. COL2A1 gene expression is positively regulated by the NAD-dependent protein deacetylase Sirtuin 1 (SirT1), through its ability to bind chromatin regions of the COL2A1 promoter and enhancer. Although SirT1/Sox9 binding on the enhancer site of COL2A1 was previously demonstrated, little is known about its functional role on the gene promoter site. Here, we examined the mechanism by which promoter-associated SirT1 governs COL2A1 expression. Human chondrocytes were encapsulated in three-dimensional (3D) alginate beads where they exhibited upregulated COL2A1 mRNA expression and increased levels of SirT1 occupancy on the promoter and enhancer regions, when compared to monolayer controls. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analyses of 3D cultures showed augmented levels of the DNA-binding transcription factor SP1, and the histone methyltransferase Set7/9, on the COL2A1 promoter site. ChIP reChIP assays revealed that SirT1 and Set7/9 form a protein complex on the COL2A1 promoter region of 3D-cultured chondrocytes, which also demonstrated elevated trimethylated lysine 4 on histone 3 (3MeH3K4), a hallmark of Set7/9 methyltransferase activity. Advanced passaging of chondrocytes yielded a decrease in 3MeH3K4 and Set7/9 levels on the COL2A1 promoter and reduced COL2A1 expression, suggesting that the SirT1/Set7/9 complex is preferentially formed on the COL2A1 promoter and required for gene activation. Interestingly, despite SirT1 occupancy, its deacetylation targets (ie, H3K9/14 and H4K16) were found acetylated on the COL2A1 promoter of 3D-cultured chondrocytes. A possible explanation for this phenotype is the enrichment of the histone acetyltransferases P300 and GCN5 on the COL2A1 promoter of3 D-cultured chondrocytes. Our study indicates that Set7/9 prevents the histone deacetylase activity of SirT1, potentiating euchromatin formation on the promoter site of COL2A1 and resulting in morphology-dependent COL2A1 gene transactivation.
- CHONDROCYTE DIFFERENTIATION