Vestigial-Like 3 Plays an Important Role in Osteoblast Differentiation by Regulating the Expression of Osteogenic Transcription Factors and BMP Signaling

Haoze Yuan, Mika Ikegame, Yoko Fukuhara, Fumiko Takemoto, Yaqiong Yu, Jumpei Teramachi, Yao Weng, Jiajie Guo, Daisuke Yamada, Takeshi Takarada, Ying Li, Hirohiko Okamura, Bin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our previous gene profiling analysis showed that the transcription cofactor vestigial-like 3 (VGLL3) gene expression was upregulated by mechanical tension in the mouse cranial suture, coinciding with accelerated osteoblast differentiation. Therefore, we hypothesized that VGLL3 plays a significant role in osteogenic differentiation. To clarify the function of VGLL3 in osteoblasts, we examined its expression characteristics in mouse bone tissue and the osteoblastic cell line MC3T3-E1. We further examined the effects of Vgll3 knockdown on osteoblast differentiation and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling. In the mouse cranial suture, where membranous ossification occurs, VGLL3 was immunohistochemically detected mostly in the nucleus of osteoblasts, preosteoblasts, and fibroblastic cells. VGLL3 expression in MC3T3-E1 cells was transient and peaked at a relatively early stage of differentiation. RNA sequencing revealed that downregulated genes in Vgll3-knockdown cells were enriched in gene ontology terms associated with osteoblast differentiation. Interestingly, most of the upregulated genes were related to cell division. Targeted Vgll3 knockdown markedly suppressed the expression of major osteogenic transcription factors (Runx2, Sp7/osterix, and Dlx5) and osteoblast differentiation. It also attenuated BMP signaling; moreover, exogenous BMP2 partially restore osteogenic transcription factors’ expression in Vgll3-knockdown cells. Furthermore, overexpression of Vgll3 increased the expression of osteogenic transcription factors. These results suggest that VGLL3 plays a critical role in promoting osteoblast differentiation and that part of the process is mediated by BMP signaling. Further elucidation of VGLL3 function will increase our understanding of osteogenesis and skeletal disease etiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-344
Number of pages14
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • BMP
  • Osteoblast differentiation
  • Transcription factors
  • Vestigial-like 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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