Epigenetic Repression of RUNX2 and OSX Promoters Controls the Nonmineralized State of the Periodontal Ligament.
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The nonmineralized state of the mammalian periodontal ligament is one of the hallmarks of vertebrate evolution as it provides resilient and nontraumatic tooth anchorage for effective predation. Here we sought to determine how the chromatin state of key mineralization gene promoters contributes to the nonmineralized periodontal ligament in the midst of fully mineralized alveolar bone and cementum anchor tissues. In developing mouse periodontal tissues, RUNX2 was localized to alveolar bone-lining cells, while OSX was localized throughout the periodontal ligament's soft tissue. Matching RT-PCR amplification data and western blot comparisons demonstrated that the expression of RUNX2 and OSX bone mineralization transcription factors was at least 2.5-fold elevated in alveolar bone osteoblasts versus periodontal ligament fibroblasts. ChIP enrichment data along the RUNX2 and OSX promoters revealed increased H3K4me3 marks in alveolar bone osteoblasts, while H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 marks were elevated in periodontal ligament fibroblasts. In support of an epigenetic mechanism responsible for the inhibition of mineralization gene expression in periodontal progenitors, histone methylation inhibitors DZNep and Chaetocin reactivated RUNX2 and OSX expression in periodontal progenitors and increased alkaline phosphatase and Alizarin Red, while the in vivo application of DZNep in rat maxillae resulted in aberrant mineralization in the periodontal ligament and a narrowing of the nonmineralized periodontal space. Together, these studies demonstrate that the nonmineralized state of the mammalian periodontal ligament is controlled by an epigenetic regulation of the RUNX2 and OSX key mineralization gene promoters.