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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Nov;87(21):8442-6.

MyoD induces growth arrest independent of differentiation in normal and transformed cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


MyoD is a gene involved in the control of muscle differentiation. We show that MyoD causes growth arrest when expressed in cell lines derived from tumors or transformed by different oncogenes. MyoD-induced growth inhibition was demonstrated by reduction in the efficiency of colony formation and at the single-cell level. We further show that MyoD growth inhibition can occur in cells that are not induced to activate muscle differentiation markers. The inhibitory activity of MyoD was mapped to the same 68-amino acid segment necessary and sufficient for induction of muscle differentiation, the basic-helix-loop-helix motif. Mutants with alterations in the basic region of MyoD that fail to bind or do not activate a muscle-specific enhancer inhibited growth; mutants with deletions in the helix-loop-helix region failed to inhibit growth. Thus, inhibition of cell growth by MyoD seems to occur by means of a parallel pathway to the one that leads to myogenesis. We conclude that MyoD is a prototypic gene capable of functionally activating intracellular growth inhibitory pathways.

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