TGF-β regulates phosphorylation and stabilization of Sox9 protein in chondrocytes through p38 and Smad dependent mechanisms

Academic Article


  • Members of the TGF-β superfamily are important regulators of chondrocyte function. Sox9, a key transcriptional regulator of chondrogenesis, is required for TGF-β-mediated regulation of specific cartilage genes. TGF-β can signal through a canonical, Smad-mediated pathway or non-conical pathways, including p38. Here we show that both pathways are activated in chondrocytes after treatment with TGF-β and that TGF-β stabilizes Sox9 protein and increases phosphorylation of Sox9. Mutagenesis of potential serine phosphorylation sites on Sox9 was used to demonstrate that serine 211 is required to maintain normal basal levels of Sox9 as well as mediate increased Sox9 levels in response to TGF-β. The serine 211 site is in a motif that is targeted by p38 kinase. We used siRNA and pharmacological agents to show that p38 and Smad3 independently regulate the phosphorylation and stability of Sox9. Previously, we demonstrated that Papss2 is a downstream transcriptional target of Sox9 and TGF-β. Here we show that p38 is required for TGF-β-mediated regulation of Papss2 mRNA. Together the results suggest a new mechanism for TGF-β-mediated gene regulation in chondrocytes via p38 and phosphorylation and stabilization of Sox9. Understanding how TGF-β regulates Sox9 may lead to identification of therapeutic targets for OA.
  • Published In

  • Scientific Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Coricor G; Serra R
  • Volume

  • 6