A gene with homology to the myc similarity region of MyoD1 is expressed during myogenesis and is sufficient to activate the muscle differentiation program.

D. G. Edmondson, E. N. Olson

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MyoD1 is a nuclear phosphoprotein that is expressed in skeletal muscle in vivo and in certain muscle cell lines in vitro; it has been shown to convert fibroblasts to myoblasts through a mechanism requiring a domain with homology to the myc family of proteins. The BC3H1 muscle cell line expresses skeletal muscle-specific genes upon exposure to mitogen-deficient medium, but does not express MyoD1 at detectable levels. To determine whether BC3H1 cells may express regulatory genes functionally related to MyoD1, a cDNA library prepared from differentiated BC3H1 myocytes, was screened at reduced stringency with the region of the MyoD1 cDNA that shares homology with c-myc. From this screen, a cDNA was identified that encodes a major open reading frame with 72% homology to the myc domain and basic region of MyoD1. The mRNA encoded by this MyoD1-related gene is expressed in skeletal muscle in vivo and in differentiated skeletal myocytes in vitro and is undetectable in cardiac or smooth muscle, nonmuscle tissues, or nonmyogenic cell types. During myogenesis, the MyoD1-related mRNA accumulates several hours prior to other muscle-specific mRNAs and therefore represents an early molecular marker for entry of myoblasts into the differentiation pathway. Transient transfection of 10T1/2 or 3T3 cells with the MyoD1-related cDNA is sufficient to induce myosin heavy-chain expression and to activate a reporter gene under transcriptional control of the muscle creatine kinase 5' enhancer, which functions only in differentiated myocytes. Expression of this cDNA in stably transfected 10T1/2 cells also leads to fusion and muscle-specific gene expression upon exposure to mitogen-deficient medium. Thus, the product of this MyoD1-related gene is sufficient to activate the muscle differentiation program and may substitute for MyoD1 in certain developmental situations. Together, these results suggest the existence of a family of myogenic regulatory genes that share a conserved motif with c-myc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)628-640
Number of pages13
JournalGenes & development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics

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