Neural crest cells give rise to a wide variety of cell types, including cartilage cells in the cranium and neurons and glial cells in the peripheral nervous system. To examine the relationship of cartilage differentiation and neural crest differentiation, we examined the expression of Col2a1, which encodes type 2 collagen often used as a cartilage marker, and compared it with the expression of Sox transcription factor genes, which are involved in neural crest development and chondrogenesis. We found that Col2a1 is expressed in many neural crest-derived cell types along with combinations of Sox9, Sox10 and LSox5. Overexpression studies reveal the activation of Col2a1 expression by Sox9 and Sox10, and cross-regulation of these Sox genes. Luciferase assay indicates a direct activation of the Col2a1 enhancer/promoter both by Sox9 and Sox10, and this activation is further enhanced by cAMP-dependent kinase (PKA) signaling. Our study suggests that the regulatory mechanisms are similar in cartilage and neural crest differentiation.
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