Heterodimers of Myogenic Helix-Loop-Helix Regulatory Factors and E12 Bind a Complex Element Governing Myogenic Induction of the Avian Cardiac α-Actin Promoter

Brent A. French, King Lau Chow, Eric N. Olson, Robert J. Schwartz

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Recent studies have shown that two genes regulating myogenesis (MyoD and myogenin) are coexpressed with cardiac α-actin during early stages of skeletal muscle development. Myogenin and MyoD are members of a family of regulatory proteins which share a helix-loop-helix (HLH) motif required for dimerization and DNA binding. Myogenin and MyoD form heterodimers with the ubiquitous HLH protein E12 which bind cis-acting DNA elements that have an E box (CANNTG) at their core. E boxes are present in the control regions of numerous muscle-specific genes, although their functional importance in regulating many of these genes has not yet been evaluated. In this report we examine the possibility that myogenin (or MyoD) directly transactivates the cardiac α-actin promoter. Heterodimers of myogenin and E12 (or MyoD and E12) specifically bound a restriction fragment extending from -200 to -103 relative to the start of cardiac α-actin transcription. Methylation interference footprints pinpointed the site of interaction to an E box immediately adjacent to a previously identified CArG box (CArG3). Site-directed mutations to the DNA-binding site revealed that either an intact E box or an intact C ArG3 is required for induction of the cardiac α-actin promoter in myoblasts and for transactivation by myogenin in cotransfected fibroblasts. However, deletion and substitution experiments indicate that the complex E box/CArG3 element alone does not confer muscle-specific expression to a minimal promoter. These results suggest that direct and indirect pathways involving multiple cis-acting elements mediate the induction of the cardiac α-actin promoter by myogenin and MyoD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2439-2450
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology

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