Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The transcriptional mechanism through which chondrocytes control the spatial and temporal composition of the cartilage tissue has remained largely elusive. The central aim of this study was to identify whether transcriptional enhancers played a role in the organisation of the chondrocytes in cartilaginous tissue. We focused on the Aggrecan gene (Acan) as it is essential for the normal structure and function of cartilage and it is expressed developmentally in different stages of chondrocyte maturation. Using transgenic reporter studies in mice we identified four elements, two of which showed individual chondrocyte developmental stage specificity. In particular, one enhancer (-80) distinguishes itself from the others by being predominantly active in adult cartilage. Furthermore, the -62 element uniquely drove reporter activity in early chondrocytes. The remaining chondrocyte specific enhancers, +28 and -30, showed no preference to chondrocyte type. The transcription factor SOX9 interacted with all the enhancers in vitro and mutation of SOX9 binding sites in one of the enhancers (-30) resulted in a loss of its chondrocyte specificity and ectopic enhancer reporter activity. Thus, the Acan enhancers orchestrate the precise spatiotemporal expression of this gene in cartilage types at different stages of development and adulthood.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Rep

Publication Date





Aggrecans, Animals, Base Sequence, Binding Sites, Cartilage, Cell Differentiation, Chondrocytes, Chondrogenesis, Enhancer Elements, Genetic, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, NIH 3T3 Cells, SOX9 Transcription Factor, Transcription, Genetic