Members of the MyoD family of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors control the formation of all skeletal muscles in vertebrates, but little is known of the molecules or mechanisms that confer unique identities to different types of skeletal muscles. MyoR and capsulin are related bHLH transcription factors expressed in specific facial muscle precursors. We show that specific facial muscles are missing in mice lacking both MyoR and capsulin, reflecting the absence of MyoD family gene expression and ablation of the corresponding myogenic lineages. These findings identify MyoR and capsulin as unique transcription factors for the development of specific head muscles.
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