Myeloid Elf-1 like factor (MEF) is a member of the Ets transcription factor family. Ets family proteins control the expression of genes that are critical for biological processes such as proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Some of Ets factors are also known to regulate bone development. In this study, we investigated the role of MEF in osteoblast differentiation. MEF expression was highest early in the differentiation of MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts and was reduced by treatment with BMP-2. The expression of MEF suppressed the alkaline phosphatase activity and expression induced by BMP-2 stimulation and mediated by Runx2. The expression of MEF also reduces osteocalcin mRNA levels, and mineralization in MC3T3-E1 cells. We found that the MEF-mediated suppression of osteogenic differentiation was critically related to Runx2 regulation. The MEF and Runx2 proteins physically interact to form a complex, and this interaction interferes with Runx2 binding to the cis-acting element OSE2 derived from the osteocalcin promoter. Co-transfection of MEF inhibited the 6xOSE2-luciferase reporter activity induced by Runx2. In addition, MEF stimulated the transcription of a negative mediator Msx2, and a transcriptional repressor, Mab21L1, and suppressed the transcription of a positive mediator, Dlx5 in osteoblast differentiation. MEF overexpression stimulated C2C12 cell proliferation. Together, our findings suggest that MEF promotes cell proliferation and functions as a negative regulator of osteogenic differentiation by directly interacting with Runx2 and suppressing its transcriptional activity.
Journal of Cellular Physiology 04/2007; 211(1):253-60. DOI:10.1002/jcp.20933 · 3.87 Impact Factor