• transcription factor;
  • periodontium;
  • bone;
  • endothelium;
  • in situ hybridization;
  • immunohistochemistry


Transient expression of Runx2 is reported in endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells during vessel formation in skin, stroma of forming bones and developing periodontal ligament, developing skeletal muscle cells, and fat tissue. The data suggest that Runx2 is expressed in a multipotential mesenchymal cell population that gives rise to various osseous and nonosseous cell lineages.

Introduction: Runx2/Cbfa1 is a transcription factor essential for cells of osteogenic and dentinogenic lineages. Here we examined expression of Runx2/Cbfa1 (all isotypes) in several nonskeletal cell types present in developing orofacial tissues of neonatal rodents and human fetuses with special emphasis on vessel formation.

Materials and Methods: Sections obtained from heads or jaws of postnatal mice, hamster, and human fetuses were immunostained with monoclonal anti-Pebp2aA antibody. Mouse and human tissues were also examined by in situ hybridization. Sections of Runx2 null mutant mice with a LacZ reporter construct inserted in the Runx2 locus were stained for Runx2 promoter activity with anti-galactosidase.

Results: We found transient mRNA and protein expression in endothelial cells and in vascular smooth muscle cells of forming vessels in skin, alveoli of forming bone, and forming periodontal ligament. We also noticed weak and variable expression in some fibroblasts of embryonic skin, early differentiating cross-striated muscle cells, and differentiating fat cells.

Conclusion: Runx2 is not an exclusive marker for chondrogenic, osteogenic, and dentinogenic tissues, but is much more widely present in an early multipotential mesenchymal cell population that gives rise to several other lineages.