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J Biol Chem. 2001 Apr 27;276(17):13709-17. Epub 2001 Jan 25.

Critical proliferation-independent window for basic fibroblast growth factor repression of myogenesis via the p42/p44 MAPK signaling pathway.

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Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


In many cell types including myoblasts, growth factors control proliferation and differentiation, in part, via the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway (also known as the extracellular regulated kinase (Erk) pathway). In C2C12 myoblast cells, insulin-like growth factor-1 and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) activate MAPK/Erk, and both growth factors promote myoblast proliferation. However, these factors have opposing roles with respect to differentiation; insulin-like growth factor-1 enhances muscle cell differentiation, whereas bFGF inhibits the expression of the muscle-specific transcription factors MyoD and myogenin. Cells treated with bFGF and PD98059, a specific inhibitor of the MAPK pathway, show enhanced expression of the muscle-specific transcription factors MyoD and myogenin as compared with cells not exposed to this inhibitor. Inhibiting MAPK activity also enhances myoblast fusion and the expression of the late differentiation marker myosin heavy chain. Basic FGF mediated repression of muscle-specific genes does not result from continued cell proliferation, since bFGF-treated cells progress through only one round of cell division. We have identified a critical boundary 16 to 20 h after plating during which bFGF induced MAPK activity is able to repress myogenic gene expression and differentiation. Thus, the targets of MAPK that regulate myogenesis are functional at this time and their identification is in progress.

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