The molecular mechanisms that couple osteoblast structure and gene expression are emerging from recent studies on the bone extracellular matrix, integrins, the cytoskeleton, and the nucleoskeleton (nuclear matrix). These proteins form a dynamic structural network, the tissue matrix, that physically links the genes with the substructure of the cell and its substrate. The molecular analog of cell structure is the geometry of the promoter. The degree of supercoiling and bending of promoter DNA can regulate transcriptional activity. Nuclear matrix proteins may render a change in cytoskeletal organization into a bend or twist in the promoter of target genes. We review the role of nuclear matrix proteins in the regulation of gene expression with special emphasis on osseous tissue. Nuclear matrix proteins bind to the osteocalcin and type I collagen promoters in osteoblasts. One such protein is Cbfa1, a recently described transcriptional activator of osteoblast differentiation. Although their mechanisms of action are unknown, some nuclear matrix proteins may act as 'architectural' transcription factors, regulating gene expression by bending the promoter and altering the interactions between other trans-acting proteins. The osteoblast nuclear matrix is comprised of cell- and phenotype-specific proteins including proteins common to all cells. Nuclear matrix proteins specific to the osteoblast developmental stage and proteins that distinguish osteosarcoma from the osteoblast have been identified. Recent studies indicating that nuclear matrix proteins mediate bone cell response to parathyroid hormone and vitamin D are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine