Studies on the muscle-specific regulatory protein myogenin

Thomas Joseph Brennan, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Recently, a family of muscle-specific regulatory factors that includes myogenin, myoD, myf-5, and MRF-4 has been identified. They share a high degree of homology within a region that contains a basic and helix-loop-helix domain. Transfection of many non-muscle cell types with any one of these genes results in the activation of the entire myogenic program. To explore the mechanism through which myogenin regulates myogenesis, we have prepared antibodies against peptides specific to myogenin. Using these antibodies we show that myogenin is a 32 Kd phospho-protein which is localized to the nuclei of muscle cells. In vitro, myogenin oligomerizes with the ubiquitous enhancer binding factor E12, and acquires high affinity for an element of the core of the muscle creatine kinase (MCK) enhancer that is conserved among many muscle-specific genes. Myogenin synthesized in BC$\sb3$H1 and C2 muscle cell lines also binds to the same site in the enhancer. However, the MCK enhancer is not activated in 10T1/2 fibroblasts which have been transfected with a constitutive myogenin expression vector until growth factors have been removed from the media. This result indicates that mitogenic signals block the actions of myogenin.. Mutagenesis of the myogenin/E12 binding site in the MCK enhancer abolishes binding of the hetero-oligomer and prevents trans-activation of the enhancer by myogenin. By site directed mutagenesis of myogenin we have shown that the basic region consists of three clusters of basic residues, two of which are required for binding and activation of the myogenic program. Myogenic activation, but not DNA binding, is lost when the 10 residue region between the two required basic clusters is substituted with the corresponding region from E12, which also contains a similar basic and helix-loop-helix domain. Functional revertants of this substitution mutant have identified two amino acids which confer muscle specificity. The properties of myogenin suggest that it functions as a sequence-specific DNA binding factor that interacts directly with muscle-specific genes during myogenesis and contains within its basic domain a region which imparts myogenic activation and is separable from DNA binding.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Brennan, Thomas Joseph, "Studies on the muscle-specific regulatory protein myogenin" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9110458.