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Nucleic Acids Res. 1992 Feb 11;20(3):539-44.

The MyoD family of myogenic factors is regulated by electrical activity: isolation and characterization of a mouse Myf-5 cDNA.

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  • 1Unit on Molecular Neurobiology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


A full-length cDNA coding for a homolog of the human Myf-5 was isolated from a BC3H-1 mouse library and characterized. The clone codes for a protein of 255 amino acids that is 89%, 88% and 68% identical to the human, bovine and Xenopus myf-5, respectively. The mouse Myf-5 cDNA (mmyf-5), as well as sequences coding for MyoD, myogenin and Mrf-4, were used to probe Northern blots to analyze the effects of innervation on the expression of the MyoD family of myogenic factors. Mouse myf-5, MyoD and myogenin mRNAs levels were found to decline in hind limb muscles of mice between embryonic day 15 (E15) and the first postnatal week, a period that coincides with innervation. In contrast, Mrf-4 transcripts increase during this period and reach steady-state levels by 1-week after birth. To distinguish if the changes in myogenic factor expression are due to a developmental program or to innervation, mRNA levels were analyzed at different times after muscle denervation. Mmyf-5 transcripts begin to accumulate 2 days postdenervation; after 1 week levels are 7-fold higher than in innervated muscle. Mrf-4, MyoD and myogenin transcripts begin to accumulate as soon as 8h after denervation, and attain levels that are 8-, 15- and 40-fold higher than found in innervated skeletal muscle, respectively. The accumulation of these three mRNAs precedes the increase of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha subunit transcripts, a gene that is transcriptionally regulated by MyoD-related factors in vitro. Using extracellular electrodes to directly stimulate in situ the soleus muscle of rats, we found that 'electrical activity' per se, in absence of the nerve, represses the increases of myogenic factor mRNAs associated with denervation.

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