Regulation of myogenin transcription during mouse embryogenesis

Tse-Chang Cheng, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The formation of skeletal muscle during vertebrate development involves the induction of mesoderm and subsequent generation of myoblasts that ultimately differentiate into mature muscles. The recent identification of a group of myogenic regulators that can convert fibroblasts to myoblasts has contributed to our understanding of the molecular events that underlie the establishment of the skeletal muscle phenotype. Members of this group of myogenic regulators share a helix-loop-helix (HLH) motif that mediates DNA binding. The myogenic HLH proteins bind to the consensus sequence CANNTG, referred to as an E-box, and activate muscle-specific transcription. In addition to E-boxes, other motifs, such as the MEF-2 binding site, have been shown to mediate muscle-specific transcription. The myogenic HLH proteins are expressed in the myogenic precursors in somites and limb buds, and in differentiated muscle fibers during embryogenesis, consistent with their roles as regulators for muscle development. The myogenic HLH proteins appear to auto-activate their own and cross-activate one another's expression in cultured cells. Myogenin is one of the myogenic HLH proteins and likely the regulator for terminal muscle differentiation. Myogenin is a common target of diverse regulatory pathways. To search for upstream regulators of myogenin, we studied regulation of myogenin transcription during mouse embryogenesis. We showed that the myogenin promoter contains a binding site for MEF-2, which can mediate indirectly the autoregulation of myogenin transcription. We found that a transgene under the control of a 1.5 kb 5$\sp\prime$ flanking sequence can recapitulate the temporal and spatial expression pattern of the endogenous myogenin gene during mouse embryogenesis. By tracing embryonic cells that activate myogenin-lacZ during embryogenesis, we found no evidence that lacZ was expressed in myogenic precursors migrating from somites to limb buds, suggesting the existence of regulators other than myogenic HLH proteins that can maintain cells in the myogenic lineage. Mutations of an E-box and a MEF-2 site in the myogenin promoter suppressed transcription in subsets of myogenic precursors in mouse embryos. These results suggest that myogenic HLH proteins and MEF-2 participate in separable regulatory pathways controlling myogenin transcription and provide evidence for positional regulation of myogenic regulators in the embryo.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Cheng, Tse-Chang, "Regulation of myogenin transcription during mouse embryogenesis" (1993). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9400111.