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Published May 1993 | Published
Journal Article Open

Isolated sequences from the linked Myf-5 and MRF4 genes drive distinct patterns of muscle-specific expression in transgenic mice


In developing mouse embryos, MyoD family regulatory genes are expressed specifically in muscle precursors and mature myofibers. This pattern, taken together with the well-established ability of MyoD family members to convert a variety of cell types to skeletal muscle, suggests a significant role for these genes in regulating skeletal myogenesis. The possibility that expression of these genes may be causally associated with segregation of the myogenic lineage from other mesodermal derivatives, or with the subsequent maintenance of muscle phenotypes at later times, raises the issue of how MyoD family genes are themselves regulated during development. In this work, we have initiated studies to identify DNA sequences that govern Myf-5 and MRF4 (herculin, myf-6) transcription. Myf-5 is the first of the MyoD family to be expressed in the developing mouse embryo, while MRF4 is the most abundantly expressed myogenic factor in postnatal animals. In spite of their strikingly divergent patterns of expression, Myf-5 and MRF4 are tightly linked in the mouse genome; their translational start codons are only 8.5 kilobases apart. Here, the 5' flanking regions of the mouse Myf-5 and MRF4 genes were separately linked to a bacterial β-galactosidase (lacZ) gene, and these constructs were each used to produce several lines of transgenic mice. Transgene expression was monitored by X-gal staining of whole embryos and by in situ hybridization of embryo sections. For the Myf-5/lacZ lines, the most intense transgene expression was in the visceral arches and their craniofacial muscle derivatives, beginning at day 8.75 post coitum (p.c.). This correlates with endogenous Myf-5 expression in visceral arches. However, while Myf-5 is also expressed in somites starting at day 8 p.c., transgene expression in the trunk is not observed until day 12 p.c. Thus, the Myf-5/lacZ construct responds to early Myf-5 activators in the visceral arches but not in the somites, suggesting that myogenic determination in the nonsomitic head mesoderm may be under separate control from that of the somitic trunk mesoderm. MRF4/lacZ lines displayed an entirely different pattern from Myf-5. Transgene expression appeared in muscles starting at day 16.5 p.c. and became increasingly prominent at later times. However, an early wave of myotomal expression that is characteristic of the endogenous MRF4 was not recapitulated by the transgene.

Additional Information

Copyright © 1993 by Company of Biologists. (Accepted 27 January 1993) We are indebted to S. Darling and J. Rossant for the lacZ plasmid and H. Arnold for MRF4 and Myf-5 cDNAs. We thank S. Fukuda and K. Lee for technical assistance. We also thank D. Anderson, J. Sanes, and members of the Wold group for helpful comments on the manuscript. A.P. was supported by an NIH Predoctoral Training Grant. This work was supported by grants to B.W. from the NIH and MDA, and to G.L. from MDA.

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