BackgroundProinflammatory cytokines, which can upregulate the expression of matrix-degrading enzymes in chondrocytes, play important roles in the development of osteoarthritis. BET family proteins, acting as the readers of acetylated modifications on histones, have been linked to transcriptional regulation. And a BET protein inhibitor, I-BET151, has been shown to inhibit the induction of matrix-degrading enzymes by proinflammatory cytokines in chondrocytes. Our objective is to clarify the role and mechanism of BET proteins on matrix-degrading enzyme gene expression by using a human chondrosarcoma cell line (SW1353).MethodsWe pretreated SW1353 cells with I-BET151 prior to treatment with IL-1 or TNF- and then checked the expression of four matrix-degrading enzyme genes (MMP1, MMP3, MMP13, and ADAMTS4). We performed knockdown of BET protein family members (BRD2, BRD3, and BRD4) with corresponding siRNAs in SW1353 cells prior to treatment with IL-1 or TNF- and checked the expression of the matrix-degrading enzyme genes. We evaluated Brd-mediated transcriptional regulation on the matrix-degrading enzyme genes by ChIP assay.ResultsWe confirmed that I-BET151 could suppress the IL-1- or TNF--induced expression of MMP1, MMP3, MMP13, and ADAMTS4 in SW1353 cells. Brd3 and Brd4 were required for the IL-1- or TNF--induced expression of matrix-degrading enzyme genes in SW1353 cells. We revealed that inducible acetylation of H4k5/8/12 and the recruitment of Brd3, Brd4, and p-TEFb to chromatin were involved in IL-1- or TNF--induced transcription.ConclusionsOur findings suggested that Brd3 and Brd4 were essential for the IL-1- or TNF--induced transcription of matrix-degrading enzyme genes, and recruitment of Brd3 and Brd4 to chromatin of these genes played the main role in this process.