A novel myogenic regulatory circuit controls slow/cardiac troponin C gene transcription in skeletal muscle

Michael S. Parmacek, Hon S. Ip, Frank Jung, Tingliang Shen, James F. Martin, Anuradha J. Vora, Eric N. Olson, Jeffrey M. Leiden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


The slow/cardiac troponin C (cTnC) gene is expressed in three distinct striated muscle lineages: cardiac myocytes, embryonic fast skeletal myotubes, and adult slow skeletal myocytes. We have reported previously that cTnC gene expression in cardiac muscle is regulated by a cardiac-specific promoter/enhancer located in the 5' flanking region of the gene (bp -124 to +1). In this report, we demonstrate that the cTnC gene contains a second distinct and independent transcriptional enhancer which is located in the first intron. This second enhancer is skeletal myotube specific and is developmentally up-regulated during the differentiation of myoblasts to myotubes. This enhancer contains three functionally important nuclear protein binding sites: a CACCC box, a MEF-2 binding site, and a previously undescribed nuclear protein binding site, designated MEF-3, which is also present in a large number of skeletal muscle-specific transcriptional enhancers. Unlike most skeletal muscle-specific transcriptional regulatory elements, the cTnC enhancer does not contain a consensus binding site (CANNTG) for the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) family of transcription factors and does not directly bind MyoD-E12 protein complexes. Despite these findings, the cTnC enhancer can be transactivated by overexpression of the myogenic bHLH proteins. MyoD and myogenin, in C3H10T1/2 (10T1/2) cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated changes in the patterns of MEF-2, CACCC, and MEF-3 DNA binding activities following the conversion of 10T1/2 cells into myoblasts and myotubes by stable transfection with a MyoD expression vector. In particular, MEF-2 binding activity was up-regulated in 10T1/2 cells stably transfected with a MyoD expression vector only after these cells fused and differentiated into skeletal myotubes. Taken together, these results demonstrated that distinct lineage-specific transcriptional regulatory elements control the expression of a single myofibrillar protein gene in fast skeletal and cardiac muscle. In addition, they show that bHLH transcription factors can indirectly transactivate the expression of some muscle-specific genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1870-1885
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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