Sasamoto T, Fujimoto K, Kanawa M, Kimura J, Takeuchi J, Harada N, Goto N, Kawamoto T, Noshiro M, Suardita K, Tanne K, Kato Y.
Differentiated embryo chondrocyte 2 (DEC2) is a basic helix-loop-helix-Orange transcription factor that regulates cell differentiation in various mammalian tissues. DEC2 has been shown to suppress the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into myocytes and adipocytes. In the present study, we examined the role of DEC2 in the chondrogenic differentiation of human MSCs. The overexpression of DEC2 exerted minimal effects on the proliferation of MSCs in monolayer cultures with the growth medium under undifferentiating conditions, whereas it suppressed increases in DNA content, glycosaminoglycan content, and the expression of several chondrocyte-related genes, including aggrecan and type X collagen alpha 1, in MSC pellets in centrifuge tubes under chondrogenic conditions. In the pellets exposed to chondrogenesis induction medium, DEC2 overexpression downregulated the mRNA expression of fibroblast growth factor 18, which is involved in the proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes, and upregulated the expression of p16INK4, which is a cell cycle inhibitor. These findings suggest that DEC2 is a negative regulator of the proliferation and differentiation of chondrocyte lineage-committed mesenchymal cells.