Use of a hypomorphic allele of myogenin to analyze Myogenin-dependent processes in mouse development

Jay LaVerne Vivian, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Myogenin is a muscle-specific transcription factor essential for skeletal muscle differentiation. A severe reduction in the number of fused myotubes is seen in myogenin-null mice, and the expression of genes characteristic of differentiated skeletal muscle is reduced. Additionally, sternebrae defects are seen in myogenin-null mice, a secondary defect in the sternal cartilage precursors. Very little is known about the quantitative requirement for myogenin in muscle differentiation and thoracic skeletal development in vivo. In this thesis I describe experiments utilizing a mouse line harboring a hypomorphic allele of myogenin, generated by gene targeting techniques in embryonic stem cells. The nature of the hypomorphism was due to lowered levels of myogenin from this allele. In embryos homozygous for the hypomorphic allele, normal sternum formation and extensive muscle differentiation was observed. However, muscle hypoplasia and reduced muscle-specific gene expression were apparent in these embryos, and the mice were not viable after birth. These results suggest skeletal muscle differentiation is highly sensitive to the absolute amounts of myogenin, and reveal distinct threshold requirements for myogenin in skeletal muscle differentiation, sternum formation, and viability in vivo. The hypomorphic allele was utilized as a genetically sensitized background to identify other components of myogenin-mediated processes. Using a candidate gene approach I crossed null mutations in MEF2C and MRF4 into the hypomorphic background and examined whether these mutations affected muscle differentiation and skeleton formation in the myogenin hypomorph. Although MEF2C mutation did not affect any phenotypes seen in the hypomorphic background, MRF4 was observed to be an essential component of myogenin-mediated processes of thoracic skeletal development. Additionally, the hypomorphic allele was very sensitive to genetic effects, suggesting the existence of mappable genetic modifiers of the hypomorphic allele of myogenin.

Subject Area

Genetics|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Vivian, Jay LaVerne, "Use of a hypomorphic allele of myogenin to analyze Myogenin-dependent processes in mouse development" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9942099.