Background: Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) stimulates osteoblast differentiation, but inhibits myogenic differentiation in C2C12 myoblasts. BMP-2 induces transcription of Id1, an inhibitor for myogenesis, within 1 h in the cells. To examine the molecular mechanism of the action of BMP-2, we analysed a BMP-2-responsive element (BRE) in the 5′ flanking region of the human Id1 gene.
Results: A GC-rich region between −985 bp and −957 bp of the human Id1 gene was identified as a BRE. The BRE containing promoter activity was stimulated by BMP-2 or by constitutively active BMP receptors (BMPR-IA and BMPR-IB). The stimulation was blocked by co-transfecting with dominant negative BMPR-IA or Smad7. A unique DNA–protein complex was induced in response to BMP-2 on the BRE. The complex induced by BMP-2 contained Smad1 and Smad4, possibly as a complex of both Smads. BMP-2 failed to stimulate the expression of Id1 mRNA in Smad4-deficient cells. Over-expression of Smad4, but not Smad1, stimulated the Id1 reporter activity and the expression of endogenous Id1 mRNA in Smad4-deficient cells.
Conclusion: Signalling of BMP-2 to stimulate the expression of Id1 would be transduced by BMPR-IA and mediated by Smad1 and Smad4, both of which form a complex on the 29 bp GC-rich element.