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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 May 28;99(11):7757-62.

Stage-specific modulation of skeletal myogenesis by inhibitors of nuclear deacetylases.

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Laboratory of Muscle Biology, Muscle Gene Expression Group, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Nuclear acetyltransferases promote and deacetylases inhibit skeletal muscle-gene expression, suggesting the potential effectiveness of deacetylase inhibitors (DIs) in modulating skeletal myogenesis. Surprisingly, previous studies have indicated that DIs suppress myogenesis. The recent observations that histone deacetylases associate with the muscle-regulatory proteins MyoD and MEF2C only in undifferentiated myoblasts prompted us to evaluate the effect of DIs at distinct stages of the myogenic program. We found that exposure of established rodent and human muscle cells to distinct DIs has stage-specific effects. Exposure of undifferentiated skeletal myoblasts to DIs, followed by incubation in differentiation medium, enhanced the expression of muscle-specific reporters and increased the levels of endogenous muscle proteins, leading to a dramatic increase in the formation of multinucleated myotubes. By contrast, simultaneous exposure of muscle cells to differentiation medium and DIs inhibited the myogenic program. Likewise, embryos exposed in utero to nonteratogenic doses of DI at the early stages of somitic myogenesis (embryonic day 8.5) exhibited an increased number of somites and augmented expression of a muscle-specific transgene as well as endogenous muscle genes. The functional effects induced by DIs were mirrored by changes in the state of acetylation of histones present at a muscle-gene enhancer and of MyoD itself. These results represent the first evidence that DIs can enhance muscle differentiation and suggest the rationale for their use in manipulating adult and embryonic skeletal myogenesis.

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