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J Biol Chem. 1993 Mar 15;268(8):5524-9.

Antineoplastic agent doxorubicin inhibits myogenic differentiation of C2 myoblasts.

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  • 1Institute for Genetic Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033.


Doxorubicin (Dox, adriamycin), an antineoplastic agent that can cause dilated cardiomyopathy, selectively inhibits muscle-specific gene expression in rodent cardiac muscle cells. This study shows that Dox treatment of proliferating C2 myoblasts, an established cell line from mouse skeletal muscle, completely prevents both fusion and accumulation of muscle-specific gene transcripts without significantly altering non-muscle gene transcripts. When added to high density cultures, Dox only blocked myotube formation but did not inhibit induction of muscle-specific genes. Transient transfection into C2 myoblasts showed that the transcriptional expression of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter plasmids regulated by either the cardiac alpha-actin promoter or the muscle creatine kinase enhancer, but not with a viral or beta-actin promoter, was significantly diminished by Dox in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, exposure of C2 myoblasts to Dox had a profound effect on the expression of regulatory genes critical to the myogenic differentiation program; mRNAs for MyoD and myogenin were dramatically reduced and Id mRNA was concomitantly increased. In addition, there was diminished DNA binding activity of the muscle-specific transcription factor, MEF-2. These results suggest that Dox inhibits myogenesis by preventing muscle-specific gene expression, possibly through affecting the myogenic programs controlled by muscle-specific transcription factors.

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