[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The muscle-specific transcription factors Myf5 and Mrf4 are two of the four myogenic regulatory factors involved in the transcriptional cascade responsible for skeletal myogenesis in the vertebrate embryo. Myf5 is the first of these four genes to be expressed in the mouse. We have previously described discrete enhancers that drive Myf5 expression in epaxial and hypaxial somites, branchial arches and central nervous system, and argued that additional elements are required for proper expression (Summerbell, D., Ashby, P. R., Coutelle, O., Cox, D., Yee, S. P. and Rigby, P. W. J. (2000) Development 127, 3745-3757). We have now investigated the transcriptional regulation of both Myf5 and Mrf4 using bacterial artificial chromosome transgenesis. We show that a clone containing Myf5 and 140 kb of upstream sequences is sufficient to recapitulate the known expression patterns of both genes. Our results confirm and reinforce the conclusion of our earlier studies, that Myf5 expression is regulated differently in each of a considerable number of populations of muscle progenitors, and they begin to illuminate the evolutionary origins of this complex regulation. We further show that separate elements are involved in the activation and maintenance of expression in the various precursor populations, reflecting the diversity of the signals that control myogenesis. Mrf4 expression requires at least four elements, one of which may be shared with Myf5, providing a possible explanation for the linkage of these genes throughout vertebrate phylogeny. Further complexity is revealed by the demonstration that elements which control Mrf4 and Myf5 are embedded in an unrelated neighbouring gene.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of skeletal muscle in vertebrate embryos is controlled by a transcriptional cascade that includes the four myogenic regulatory factors Myf5, Myogenin, MRF4 and MyoD. In the mouse embryo, Myf5 is the first of these factors to be expressed and mutational analyses suggest that this protein acts early in the process of commitment to the skeletal muscle fate. We have therefore analysed the regulation of Myf5 gene expression using transgenic technology and find that its control is markedly different from that of the other two myogenic regulatory factor genes previously analysed, Myogenin and MyoD. We show that Myf5 is regulated through a number of distinct and discrete enhancers, dispersed throughout 14 kb spanning the MRF4/Myf5 locus, each of which drives reporter gene expression in a particular subset of skeletal muscle precursors. This region includes four separate enhancers controlling expression in the epaxial muscle precursors of the body, some hypaxial precursors of the body, some facial muscles and the central nervous system. These elements separately or together are unable to drive expression in the cells that migrate to the limb buds and in some other muscle subsets and to correctly maintain expression at late times. We suggest that this complex mechanism of control has evolved because different inductive signals operate in each population of muscle precursors and thus distinct enhancers, and cognate transcription factors, are required to interpret them.