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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Transcriptional regulation of bone formation by the osteoblast-specific transcription factor Osx

Chi Zhang

Author Affiliations

Bone Research Laboratory, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Texas, USA

Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2010, 5:37  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-5-37

Published: 15 June 2010


Bone formation is a complex developmental process involving the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to osteoblasts. Osteoblast differentiation occurs through a multi-step molecular pathway regulated by different transcription factors and signaling proteins. Osx (also known as Sp7) is the only osteoblast-specific transcriptional factor identified so far which is required for osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Osx knock-out mice lack bone completely and cartilage is normal. This opens a new window to the whole research field of bone formation. Osx inhibits Wnt pathway signaling, a possible mechanism for Osx to inhibit osteoblast proliferation. These reports demonstrate that Osx is the master gene that controls osteoblast lineage commitment and the subsequent osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. This review is to highlight recent progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of bone formation by Osx.