Regulation of myogenesis and suppression of mck 5' enhancer elements by TGFbeta and RAS

Edward Allen Sternberg, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The regulation of muscle differentiation, like cell differentiation in general, is only now beginning to be understood. Here are described several key features to myogenesis: a beginning, some intermediary events, and an endpoint. Muscle differentiation proceeds spontaneously when myoblasts are cultured in serum-poor medium. Transforming growth factor type $\beta$ (TGF$\beta$), a component of fetal serum, was found to potently suppress muscle differentiation. Prolonged blockade of differentiation required replenishing TGF$\beta$. When TGF$\beta$ was removed, cells rapidly differentiated. Both TGF$\beta$ and RAS, which also blocks myogenesis, suppress the genes for a series of muscle-specific proteins. Regions that regulate transcription of one such gene, muscle creatine kinase (mck), were located by linking progressively smaller parts of the mck 5$\sp\prime$ region to the marker gene cat and testing the constructs for regulated expression of cat in myoblasts and muscle cells. The mck promoter is not muscle-specific but requires activation. Two enhancers were found: a weak, developmentally regulated enhancer within the first intron, and a strong, compact, and tightly developmentally regulated enhancer about 1.2 Kb upstream of the transcription start site. Activity of this enhancer is eliminated by activated ras. Suppression of activated N-RAS restores potency to the upstream enhancer. Further deletion shows the mck 5$\sp\prime$ enhancer to contain an enhancer core with low but significant muscle-specific activity, and at least one peripheral element that augments core activity. The core and this peripheral element were comprised almost entirely of factor-binding motifs. The peripheral element was inactive as a single copy, but was constitutively active in multiple copies. Regions flanking the peripheral element augmented its activity and conferred partial muscle-specificity. The enhancer core is also modulated by its 5$\sp\prime$ flanking region in a complex manner. Site-specific mutants covering most of the enhancer core and interesting flanking sequences have been made; all mutants tested diminish the activity of the 5$\sp\prime$ enhancer. Alteration of the site to which MyoD1 is reported to bind completely inactivates the enhancer. A theoretical analysis of cooperativity is presented, through which the binding of a constitutively expressed nuclear factor is shown to have weak positive cooperativity. In summary, TGF$\beta$, RAS, and enhancer-binding factors are found to be initial, intermediary, and final regulators, respectively, of muscle differentiation.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Biochemistry|Genetics

Recommended Citation

Sternberg, Edward Allen, "Regulation of myogenesis and suppression of mck 5' enhancer elements by TGFbeta and RAS" (1989). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9008973.