Regulation of myogenesis by growth signals-growth factors, oncogenes and protein kinases

Li Li, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Establishment of a myogenic phenotype involves antagonism between cell proliferation and differentiation. The recent identification of the MyoD family of muscle-specific transcription factors provides opportunities to dissect at the molecular level the mechanisms through which defined cell type-specific transcription factors respond to environmental cues and regulate differentiation programs. This project is aimed at elucidation of the molecular mechanism whereby growth factors repress myogenesis. Initial studies demonstrated that nuclear oncogenes such as c-fos, junB and c-jun are immediate early genes that respond to serum and TGF-$\beta$. Using the muscle creatine kinase (MCK) enhancer linked to the reporter gene CAT as a marker for differentiation, we showed that transcriptional function of myogenin can be disrupted in the presence of c-Fos, JunB and cjun. In contrast, JunD, which shares DNA-binding specificity with JunB and c-Jun but is expressed constitutively in muscle cells, failed to show the inhibition. The repression by Fos and Jun is targeted at KE-2 motif, the same sequence that mediates myogenin-dependent activation and muscle-specific transactivation. Deletion analysis indicated that the transactivation domain of c-Jun at the N-terminus is responsible for the repression. Considering that myogenin is a phosphoprotein and cAMP and TPA are able to regulate myogenesis, we examined whether constitutively active protein kinase C (PKC) and protein kinase A (PKA) could substitute for exogenous growth factors and prevent transcription activation by myogenin. Indeed, the basic region of myogenin is phosphorylated by PKC at a threonine that is conserved in all members of the MyoD family. Phosphorylation at this site attenuates DNA binding activity of myogenin. Protein kinase A can also phosphorylate myogenin in a region adjacent to the DNA binding domain. However, phosphorylation at this site is insufficient to abrogate myogenin's DNA binding capacity, suggesting that PKA and PKC may affect myogenin transcriptional activity through different mechanisms. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms through which growth factor signals negatively regulate the muscle differentiation program and contribute to an understanding of signal transducing pathways between the cell membrane and nucleus.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Li, Li, "Regulation of myogenesis by growth signals-growth factors, oncogenes and protein kinases" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9210716.