Transcriptional activity of MEF2 during mouse embryogenesis monitored with a MEF2-dependent transgene

Francisco J. Naya, Chuanzhen Wu, James A. Richardson, Paul Overbeek, Eric N. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

135 Scopus citations

Abstract

The four members of the MEF2 family of MADS-box transcription factors, MEF2-A, MEF2-B, MEF2-C and MEF2-D, are expressed in overlapping patterns in developing muscle and neural cell lineages during embryogenesis. However, during late fetal development and postnatally, MEF2 transcripts are also expressed in a wide range of cell types. Because MEF2 expression is controlled by translational and post-translational mechanisms, it has been unclear whether the presence of MEF2 transcripts in the embryo reflects transcriptionally active MEF2 proteins. To define the temporospatial expression pattern of transcriptionally active MEF2 proteins during mouse embryogenesis, we generated transgenic mice harboring a lacZ reporter gene controlled by three tandem copies of the MEF2 site and flanking sequences from the desmin enhancer, which is active in cardiac, skeletal and smooth muscle cells. Expression of this MEF2-dependent transgene paralleled expression of MEF2 mRNAs in developing myogenic lineages and regions of the adult brain. However, it was not expressed in other cell types that express MEF2 transcripts. Tandem copies of the MEF2 site from the c-jun promoter directed expression in a similar pattern to the desmin MEF2 site, suggesting that transgene expression reflects the presence of transcriptionally active MEF2 proteins, rather than other factors specific for DNA sequences flanking the MEF2 site. These results demonstrate the presence of transcriptionally active MEF2 proteins in the early muscle and neural cell lineages during embryogenesis and argue against the existence of lineage-restricted MEF2 cofactors that discriminate between MEF2 sites with different immediate flanking sequences. The discordance between MEF2 mRNA expression and MEF2 transcriptional activity in nonmuscle cell types of embryos and adults also supports the notion that post-transcriptional mechanisms regulate the expression of MEF2 proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2045-2052
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopment
Volume126
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 22 1999

Keywords

  • MEF2
  • Transcriptional activity
  • Transgenic mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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