Beiser - Identification of Novel SHOX Target Genes in the Developing Limb Using a Transgenic Mouse Model

Katja U. Beiser, Anne Glaser, Kerstin Kleinschmidt, Isabell Scholl, Ralph Röth, Li Li, Norbert Gretz, Gunhild Mechtersheimer, Marcel Karperien, Antonio Marchini, Wiltrud Richter, Gudrun A. Rappold

PLOS One 2014

Abstract

Deficiency of the human short stature homeobox-containing gene (SHOX) has been identified in several disorders characterized by reduced height and skeletal anomalies such as Turner syndrome, Le´ ri-Weill dyschondrosteosis and Langer mesomelic dysplasia as well as isolated short stature. SHOX acts as a transcription factor during limb development and is expressed in chondrocytes of the growth plates. Although highly conserved in vertebrates, rodents lack a SHOX orthologue. This offers the unique opportunity to analyze the effects of human SHOX expression in transgenic mice. We have generated a mouse expressing the human SHOXa cDNA under the control of a murine Col2a1 promoter and enhancer (Tg(Col2a1-SHOX)). SHOX and marker gene expression as well as skeletal phenotypes were characterized in two transgenic lines. No significant skeletal anomalies were found in transgenic compared to wildtype mice. Quantitative and in situ hybridization analyses revealed that Tg(Col2a1-SHOX), however, affected extracellular matrix gene expression during early limb evelopment, suggesting a role for SHOX in growth plate assembly and extracellular matrix composition during long bone development. For instance, we could show that the connective tissue growth factor gene Ctgf, a gene involved in chondrogenic and angiogenic differentiation, is transcriptionally regulated by SHOX in transgenic mice. This finding was confirmed in human NHDF and U2OS cells and chicken micromass culture, demonstrating the value of the SHOX-transgenic mouse for the characterization of SHOX-dependent genes and pathways in early limb development.