The two striated muscle cell types, skeletal and cardiac muscle, express overlapping sets of muscle-specific genes. Activation of muscle-specific transcription in skeletal muscle is controlled by the MyoD family of regulatory factors, which are expressed exclusively in skeletal muscle. Members of the MyoD family share homology within a basic helix-loop-helix (HLH) motif that mediates DNA binding and dimerization and form heterodimers with widely expressed HLH proteins, referred to as E proteins. Although many of the genes that are regulated by members of the MyoD family are also expressed in cardiac muscle, known members of the MyoD family have never been detected in cardiac muscle, suggesting that cardiac myocytes either express unique cell type-specific HLH proteins or rely on a distinct regulatory strategy for activation of cardiac muscle transcription. This review will summarize current knowledge of the mechanisms through which the MyoD family activates skeletal muscle transcription and will consider potential mechanisms that may regulate gene expression in the heart.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine